After 25 years in the food service industry, this local chef decided to cook up her own personal venture - The Esoteric Chef - catering to clients with specific dietary needs.
From vegetarian, vegan and paleo to gluten, dairy and egg free, Alison Mcelfresh has catered to (pun intended) every special request in the book. But now, after 25 years of food industry experience, Mcelfresh is cooking up her own savory start-up: The Esoteric Chef.
Mcelfresh says she started her career in a funky Kentucky restaurant where she served up classic vegetarian and vegan dishes “before anyone knew what vegan was.” She eventually decided to hone her craft as a chef, so she attended the Greater Cincinnati Culinary Academy where she received training in classic French cooking techniques.
“Career stops along the way included catering and the hospitality industry,” she explains. “My resume also includes a stint at the legendary Masionette in Cincinnati.”
Before she launched The Esoteric Chef, Mcelfresh says, she was honored to have the opportunity to work with disabled adults where she taught them basic skills so that they could get jobs in food service.
There’s also a personal background that led Mcelfresh to launch The Esoteric Chef, which includes a journey of weight gain and loss – something she says is common among those in the food industry – as well as her path back to being healthy.
According to Mcelfresh, her determination combined with her cooking skills has helped her to lose 80 pounds so far. All the while, Mcelfresh continues to cook and eat tasty meals. “See,” she laughs, “you don’t have to sacrifice taste for health!”
That’s especially handy for clients with allergies, specialty diets or eating plans. Mcelfresh also enjoys modifying family favorites in order to meet everyone’s dietary needs. “I can create meals to support those with special dietary needs – vegetarian or vegan, paleo, gluten- or dairy- free – as well as comfort classes to name but a few,” she explains.