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Nathan Allman credits his great-grandmother for inspiring the idea of Chefs for Seniors. Virginia McIlwain wanted to live her later years in her own home, but eventually went to an assisted living arrangement. Nathan and his parents, Lisa and Barrett Allman, reflected on what they could have done differently to allow her to stay in her home. That’s when the concept emerged for dispatching a trained chef to prepare a week of meals.
Nathan later enrolled in a course on entrepreneurship at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he gained tools to help turn the concept into a business to serve other clients in similar situations.
Chefs for Seniors is a growing business that not only sends trained chefs into the homes of older residents to cook for them, but also provides companionship. The Allmans are on the verge of franchising the business venture.
“The focus is on independence for seniors who want to remain in their home,” says Nathan, co-founder and COO. “But we found that companionship was just as important to people who live alone.”
In four-and-a-half years, Chefs for Seniors has expanded operations in three states and has served more than 500 households.
Chefs hired by the Allmans shop for the groceries and prep and prepare the food. In one visit, the chefs can prepare 10 to 12 meals, which the client can reheat later.
Nathan’s parents owned and operated restaurants before forming the meal service business in 2013. Then, two years later, the business was featured on National Public Radio.
“That was a watershed moment for us because the response was incredible,” says Nathan, adding that inquiries were made by more than 5,000 people nationwide.
The business employs 16 chefs, many who work part-time while maintaining jobs in the food service industry. As of August, Chefs for Seniors was registered to sell franchises in 38 states.