INTERVIEW: Alyssa Gagarin, Founder of Meal Prep Chef, on how to leverage your passion to create a career of your dreams.
Alyssa Gagarin is the charismatic founder of Meal Prep Chef, a weekly in home personal chef service creating customized menus for each client’s unique individual needs and highlighting the use of real, whole, unprocessed foods. Her YouTube cooking show is a super energetic, fun way to give her audience access to delicious wholesome recipes. Alyssa’s work has been featured with publications such as Shape Magazine and Refinery29 and she has made guest appearances on ABC’s The Chew and NBC’s New York Live. But this was not her original dream. See here on how she pivoted her career and her advice for you.
Your dream was to be an actress, how did you pivot to starting your own food company?
I'm very fortunate that I'm a multi-passionate person. While pursuing my acting career, I was driven by my interest in wellness, health, fitness & food. I decided to find flexible work in this field while auditioning and became a personal trainer & fitness instructor, obtained my nutrition certification and started cooking healthy food for clients. Over the course of a few years through word of mouth, clients kept coming my way for healthy meal preps until my schedule was jam packed and I was at full capacity! I recognized that I had created not only a convenient way to get healthy & delicious food, but that I was delivering a very special & personalized experience for my clients. So, I started my business, Meal Prep Chef, in order to accommodate my growing list of clients and to be able to help more people feel better, more energized, productive & overall healthy. It was a very natural and organic transition for me, especially because both cooking and entrepreneurship are creative outlets for me. I was no longer performing onstage, but I was creating my "art" in my own way that felt so aligned with my core values.
How did you go from being one solo person that cooks privately to having a brand and employees?
Prior to starting Meal Prep Chef, I had spent years networking in the wellness space in NYC. I made several friends and connections with dietitians, trainers, doctors, health coaches, chefs, fitness instructors, etc. This community definitely fueled the word of mouth that my business was built upon. I would also receive several instagram messages and emails from people who wanted to know how I "did it" and built a career on cooking healthy food because they aspired to do the same. From that, I knew there were SO many people out there who would love to do exactly what I was doing! So it was a no brainer to build out my team and work with people who share the same values, passion, and skills in the kitchen in order to reach more clients. It has taken lots of time and care, but I have grown from a solo, one woman show to a cast of 10 chefs on my current team.
What advice do you have for others in finding their ultimate career path and pursuing their dream?
Be open minded, and don't let "the dream" sway you from the successful path you're on. As mentioned earlier, my "dream" was to pursue a theatre career my entire life. But if I had gotten stuck on that dream and never followed my many other interests and put trust in the road that I was on, I wouldn't have my business today. Creating Meal Prep Chef is by far the most rewarding experience of my life so far and I never imagined that I'd end up being a small business owner in the food industry. I'm grateful that I welcomed this journey into my life with an open mind. Oh, and be a DOER and just DO it!
Alyssa Gagarin, founder of Meal Prep Chef, is a wellness professional who has used her skills to make a positive impact in people’s lives through food, nutrition and fitness. As an entrepreneur, she started her business to give New Yorkers a simple solution for eating nutritious home cooked meals that accommodate all of their personal dietary needs. Meal Prep Chef is a weekly in home personal chef service creating customized menus for each client’s unique individual needs and highlighting the use of real, whole, unprocessed foods. Her YouTube cooking show is a super energetic, fun way to give her audience access to delicious wholesome recipes. Alyssa’s work has been featured with publications such as Shape Magazine and Refinery29 and she has made guest appearances on ABC’s The Chew and NBC’s New York Live. She is Nutritious Life certified through Keri Glassman’s The Nutritious Life Studio. She believes that eating home cooked food is the simplest way one can improve their health and helps others make that a reality through her cooking show and Meal Prep Chef.