After his corporate executive chef job was downsized last winter, John O’Neill’s search for a new opportunity ultimately led to purchasing a Chefs For Seniors franchise, which he began operating in January. He serves clients 65 and older in Arlington, Belmont, Lexington, and Winchester, but is in the process of expanding his service area.
O’Neill, a New Hampshire Culinary Institute graduate who holds a certificate in baking, has worked at top restaurants, hotels, and colleges during his 30-year career. He has cooked for actress Julia Roberts and Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, worked alongside Julia Child and Jacques Pepin, and was personal chef to former Boston Mayor Kevin White.
Q. How does Chefs For Seniors work?
A. I do a free consultation, and clients can schedule twice-weekly, weekly, or biweekly service with no long-term commitment. They choose four out of 12 entrees from a weekly menu that doesn’t repeat for five weeks. It ends up being 10 to 12 servings for the week, all classic recipes customized to individual likes and dislikes and dietary concerns. I cook the meals, pack everything into microwavable and freezable containers, clean up, and go over the next week’s menu.
Q. What is the weekly cost?
A. The standard service is $130, the custom package costs $155, and I charge hourly for holiday meals and dinner parties. Groceries are extra, but I don’t buy anything they already have. My goal is to keep it affordable and build long-term relationships.
Q. How long is each visit?
A. I spend approximately two hours at each home. Clients can hang out with me, or sometimes they just like knowing someone else is there. The food is fresh, home-cooked, and nutritious, but a huge part is the companionship — for both of us. It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.
Q. What makes it so special?
A. One of my clients is a widower who has been eating hot dogs and beans for the last year. After I plated up a nice hot meat loaf lunch for him, he told me it was the best meal he’s had all that time. Another client told me I saved her life, which got me a little verklempt. What I do takes a lot of work, but for me, it’s an opportunity to give back to the people who have made our communities what they are today. They really are the greatest generation.
Call 781-664-3542 or visit chefsforseniors.com/greater-boston.