Using a portable kitchen, she would go into clients’ homes and cook meals tailored to their nutritional needs and preferences.
“It was a relatively new concept back then,” says the Bothell woman, “and word of mouth was basically the only way people found out about my service.”
Today, however, there are tens of thousands of personal chefs around the country, as the industry has become well-established.
In 2001, Lane adjusted her focus after building a certified commercial kitchen.
She began to prepare meals for delivery and added catering, product development and menu consulting to her repertoire of services.
Her son, Adam Lane, is her partner and together the pair has created a name for themselves, focusing on healthy meals that are not only nutritious, but delicious and aesthetically presented.
“We don’t cut corners on quality,” explains Lane. “Our service is a whole foods based meal delivery. We get organic produce deliveries from a local farm, ensuring that the food is fresher, better tasting and higher in nutrients.”
She adds, “Our meals are low-fat and high-fiber, using lean proteins and heart healthy oils. We make everything from scratch. We even make our own pastas, breads and grind our own flour and flax seed for our muffins that we bake in-house.”
Though there are other meal delivery companies providing similar services, Lane believes her background in both nutrition and restaurants gives her a unique edge.
Her training includes a degree from North Seattle Community College, courses at the UW, certificates from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Academy and an undergraduate diploma from the United States Personal Chef Association.
She also completed 200 hours of additional nutritional training and received her nutritional consultant certification so that she could expand on her knowledge and work with clients with specific dietary needs.
Her restaurant experience is varied and includes stints in a number of Seattle area dining establishments with a total of 17 years in the business.
Additionally, Lane co-founded the Personal Chefs Cooperative, a member owned and run professional trade association for Personal Chefs and Caterers.
Her company has garnered several awards over the years, including the Personal Chefs Network Pacesetter Award and the Personal Chefs Network Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Most recently, it received the Bride’s Choice Award for 2011.
“We’re a smaller scale business,” says Lane. “We do a maximum of 30 deliveries during the week and then we cater various corporate functions, nonprofit events, weddings and other special occasions.”
Those who use the Chef to Go meal delivery service can choose from several online menus that change each week, opting for spa or restaurant size portions that run from $13.50 to $15 per person per entrée.
There are also South Beach and diabetic-compliant customizable menus, as well as menus specifically for XGym members.
“People who use my meal delivery service put a high value on quality of food,” notes Lane.
“They like the diversity of menus offered and the ethnic foods I include. Many tell me that it’s like going to a different restaurant each night.”
The local woman explains that the service is great for those who have busy lives and for whom time is an important factor.
She adds, “The meal delivery makes it easy and efficient for them. It’s very convenient and they don’t have to think about what they’re going to make for dinner each night.
“The food is delivered fully prepared and chilled. All they have to do is heat the dishes up. And there’s no clean-up. We use recyclable containers.”
Lane says she has a lot of single clients, some couples and several families who use her service on a consistent basis.
She comments that the kids who have been eating her food for a while generally have wider palettes because the food she prepares isn’t “dumbed down” for children.
Typically, her clients live on the Eastside or in downtown Seattle, within a 25-mile radius from her Bothell-based kitchen.
In the near future, Lane will be starting up another meal delivery business, Fit Lifestyle Meals, with partner Karin Baron.
“It’s all about fitness meals and geared toward those who work out, as well as new moms,” she explains.
“The meals will be calorie and portion-controlled. Karin has a physical fitness and nutrition background so she will be able to contribute her expertise in that area.”
Lane also plans to grow her catering business, with an emphasis on weddings.