How do you go from turning your love of cooking into becoming a sought after personal chef doing what you love to do every day?
This week, Lula Brown – an incredible health coach and chef in New York City, talks us through the journey of how she became a personal chef. Lula started off as a health coach but as her practice grew, she realized she could incorporate her love of cooking into her health coaching practice.
Lula is a brilliant entrepreneur, health coach, and chef. Her food looks amazing and she is a great person to learn from. I wish I still lived in New York because I would be ordering her Superfood Mexican Bowls. They look divine.
Tell us about your journey from becoming a health coach and personal chef – were you a chef first? What made you decide to become a health coach?
I’ve been cooking for myself, my family and friends all my life. My Mom has been a personal chef for over 30 years, and I learned so much from her. When I was 12 I started cooking meals for myself because I had a deep curiosity about the way food affected me and really wanted to experiment with different eating styles. I also just loved cooking, and seeing the looks on friends’ eyes when they took a bite of something I made and lit up.
I started working catering events with my Mom as a teenager, helping with all phases of production and service. I also waitressed for 6 years or so through high school and college, in casual and fine-dining spots. I learned so much from the chefs at the restaurants I worked at.
As an entrepreneur, I started health coaching first, right after completing my training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I always knew I wanted to help people optimize their health and energy through food and lifestyle, so they can step into their full potential in all areas of their lives. When you have physical energy and mental clarity you have unlimited power.
I added in catering and personal chef services after a year of coaching. Right now I love the balance of coaching, cooking, recipe testing and shooting for magazines, and the private events I do for individuals, small businesses such as spas, and corporations.
How did you get into cooking? Did you go to cooking school or is food just something you’ve loved and studied your entire your entire life?
I did not go to culinary school. I learned everything I know from my Mom, brother (who is also an incredible chef), experimentation, and the chefs I worked with at restaurants through high school and college. I fell in love with cooking when I was super young and never stopped.
Walk us through the process of deciding to cook for private clients – how did you learn or figure out how to do that?
Cooking and teaching are second nature to me, a “free square” – something that comes naturally to me that’s often a challenge for other people (same goes for writing and coaching). It was an easy choice. 75% of people I know need good food and don’t have the time or know how to make it.
Yes. I send clients options based on a general request such as “French” or “spa food,” then they tell me which components they like and don’t like, and I tailor the menu accordingly. Each client wants a different level of involvement – sometimes I have full creative power and other times they want to give more input. I welcome both but thrive when I’m given freedom. Clients are always thrilled with what I create for them.
What’s the best way you’ve found to market yourself as a personal chef?
The #1 way I market myself is by walking my talk. I keep myself feeling my absolute best by eating well, exercising and engaging in a lot of self-care like spa days and massages. When I’m feeling happy, relaxed and receptive I find myself working with amazing clients. Operationally, I send weekly newsletters that almost always include a recipe, and I have fun engaging on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook consistently. I also write for Mind Body Green, Creem magazine, and Aura Cacia’s Cayenne Room.
Tell me about your favorite clients?
My favorite clients are the ones who are really psyched about the recipes they’ve seen from me and are excited to have me craft a menu for them. Generally, I like enthusiastic, happy people. They can do little wrong.
Have you had any bad experiences?
I had some stressful moments with timing at the beginning, but it always worked out. Timing is everything when you’re cooking! Do anything and everything you can in advance. Make the day of a breeze for yourself.
Keep doing what you love. Cook every day if that’s what you love. Share your passions authentically with others. Talk about yourself openly without being a jerk. Take care of yourself so you have the energy to give authentically. Be consistent in your actions, and make yourself incredibly valuable to other people. What do they really, really want and need?
I hope this interview with a personal chef has given some insights into the cooking and healthy living world. You can find Lula’s best recipes, health tips, and services at Good Taste by Lula. All photo credits go to Jake Freeman.