The Positive Chef: Starting Anew Amid the Pandemic
Photo by @bridgetmichellephoto
As we have seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, reinvention is key when it comes to those in the restaurant and food industry. Many businesses came to a complete standstill when the nation began lockdown, with mant still wondering if they will work again.
“If there’s one thing about this pandemic, it taught me that you have to be extremely flexible and be willing to try new things, because everything just shut down,” says chef Monique Burns. “So you have to be able to adapt to what’s going to come or what’s going to change at the drop of a dime.”
Burns has been working in the Arizona restaurant industry for years since graduating from the culinary program at Scottsdale Community College. She was last working at a Scottsdale resort before being furloughed during the pandemic. Burns then got a job at a restaurant and worked at Starbucks before deciding to strike out on her own in December 2020.
“Even though this pandemic is horrific on all of us, we’re so scared and afraid and just fighting over toilet paper, the one thing that I have to say that it made me do was it made me propel myself to start my business,” Burns says. “It’s forced me to be uncomfortable to the point that I was so uncomfortable that I did something and it worked out for the best, because if I didn’t have that push, I wouldn’t have started it.”
What she started was The Positive Chef, providing in-home personalized meal preparation, intimate dining experiences and private experiences for clients in Arizona. For the meal prep side, Burns starts by going to a client’s home and doing a survey on what diets or lifestyles they are following. No meals are repeated unless it’s a favorite, and she can accommodate any tastes.
“I try my best to keep everything spicy, as in you won’t get bored, and also making sure that I meet their lifestyle needs,” says Burns. “Meaning if they’re busy or just trying to have more time with their families or their dietary needs or trying to get back in shape or trying to maintain.”
Prices vary depending on the number of meals requested. The service starts at $200 plus the cost of food. For the intimate dining, prices range from $35 to $75 a person depending on how many courses are needed. The price for private celebrations like the catering of a bridal shower, baby shower or Mexican fiesta is dependent on what is needed for the event like hor d'oeuvres, a fruit display or wait service.
“My goal is to have people experience the experience of having a personal chef and also alleviate stress or anxiety when to comes to planning food, or like if you’re busy, you have a family or just slammed at work, and someone could just help you with the personal care part like taking care of yourself by meal prepping,” Burns says. “I want to be there to be able to alleviate that pressure and to share those moments that you’ll cherish forever.”
For the meal prep, it all depends on the comfort level of the client. She can drop off meals at the door or come inside and cook for them, being mindful of the latest COVID-19 guidelines.
“Before I leave, I wipe down all of the kitchen, door knobs, door handles, everywhere that I touched, and also I make sure I leave them a spotless kitchen so it’s not even evident that I’ve been there,” Burns says.
And Burns certainly embodies the name of her business perfectly and is all about the idea of optimistically cooking.
When you sit back and everyone’s enjoying their meal and just so happy that you made their birthday more special and when people say,‘You made my party’ or ‘You made my birthday so special,’ then that’s like my meal of the day,” says Burns. “That is like my satisfied meal, that someone is so happy that I created this menu or dessert for them that I’ll just be feeding off their happiness (all day).”
Visit Burns’ website to see a sample menu and get a custom quote; www.thepositivechef.com