Sun Lakes resident Peter Landman said it was becoming an unhealthy routine.
Because of health problems, he and his wife, Susan, were too tired to do a lot of shopping and cooking – so, their dinners were beginning to look the same.
“We weren’t eating well,” Landman said. “We’d get around to dinner time and hadn’t thought of anything, or prepared. She’d end up with grilled cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwich every night. I would do pretty much the same, have maybe cold cuts, or peanut butter and jelly.
“We were getting out of really wanting to make the effort.”
Landman said he began to think about moving into an assisted care facility, something neither of them really wanted to do. That’s when a friend told them about Chef for Seniors.
The service has a chef come to your home to prepare a week’s worth of meals in your kitchen. The chef does all the shopping and cooking, and even cleans up after.
Peter Landman said it is just what they needed.
Chef Robb Nicklin comes every two weeks and make 14 meals, or enough for seven days for the two of them.
That gives them the freedom to go out for a meal if they’re feeling up to it, or to make themselves something when the mood strikes. And they still get a week’s worth of meals ready to heat and serve.
Landman says he likes the idea of the chef cooking in their home.
“I like that idea because I see what’s going into the food,” he said. “And I feel more comfortable that way.”
Nicklin says he’s enjoying the job, which he has been doing since 2017. He lost his job as an instructor at the Art Institute of Phoenix. He was 60 at the time and was looking for a job, but not getting many offers.
He saw Chef for Seniors in a Facebook post and it intrigued him. He had been an executive chef at OakWood Country Club in Sun Lakes when it first opened. He knew he liked to cook, and he loved working with seniors, so he bought a franchise for most of the Southeast Valley.
“The absolute bliss of it, isn’t really there anymore,” Nicklin said of his love for cooking. “It’s something that I’ve been doing my whole life. I’m very good at it, I’m very efficient at it.”
Nicklin started operating his franchise in January 2020, and just as he started getting some regular clients, the pandemic hit.
Nicklin said he shut it down soon after because of concerns for his wife, who has a medical condition that could put her more at risk to COVID-19.
As he restarts his business, Nicklin says his clients have many reasons for hiring him.
“I have clients who are trying desperately to stay in their homes, they don’t want to go to an assisted living facility, especially after the last year,” Nicklin said. “I’ve also got some clients who are younger workers, and they have noticed they are starting to eat more and more fast food, and not feeling so good about it.”
Nicklin said his service is much more affordable than eating fast food or eating out and gives those busy young people a healthier option.
“We are not just dropping food off,” Nicklin said. “Chefs for Seniors works in the homes of people who need help or are tired of cooking. Knowing that we are helping our clients continue to enjoy their freedom and independence is the most fulfilling part of our work. It’s about good food and good company.”
Landman said he was impressed with the options, showing a print out with four pages of meal ideas.
Nicklin said that list is just the beginning. He offers the list to give people ideas, but he’s open to cooking other meals that aren’t on the menu.
“If you can name it, I can make it,” he said.
Landman said he’s happy with the service. He said they tried one of those services where you order fresh meals online and have them shipped to your house. He said he didn’t enjoy the meals.
That’s not the case with Chef for Seniors, and he says he plans to remain one of their customers.
With 95 percent of seniors reporting that they want to remain in their homes as they age and the senior population in the US expected to increase 30 percent between 2020-2030, the demand is growing for services like Chefs For Seniors that enable the elderly to remain independent.
Long-time restaurant owner Barrett Allman and his his son Nathan Allman started the original location of Chefs For Seniors in 2013. In addition to the Chandler/Sun Lakes area, the company also has franchise locations in 60 other markets.
“We are excited to begin offering the service in Chandler and believe this will help us reach even more seniors needing help with meals and wanting companionship,” Barrett Allman said.
“Over the last six years we’ve proven this service fills a need for our clients and provides great opportunities for chefs.”