connecting with people through food
My entry into the food world happened quite by accident. I agreed to start a cafe bookstore, on the UVA Corner called Kafkafe, offering coffee drinks, pastries, and lunch. The cafe quickly morphed into a full service restaurant, before the doors even opened. I created menus, managed the kitchen, and taught myself how to make fabulous desserts for the late night crowd of coffee addicts. Over the course of four delightful years I learned how to please the palates of many and realized how passionately I felt about sharing food with others.
I took a brief hiatus to raise my wonderful son and after a few years at home I enrolled him at Mountaintop Montessori, where I worked. While there, I developed and implemented a Cooking Program for six to twelve year olds, teaching the students how to slice and chop, stir and toss. Most importantly, I was able to build their trust so as we cooked together they learned to taste everything and ultimately, enjoy the meals they had created. It was a positive and rewarding experience for all involved and I am happy the program continues to be a success.
In 2010, I worked at A Pimento Catering as a chef. After two years of baking desserts and preparing food for large and small events, I was ready to return to what I find more satisfying: cooking for families in intimate settings.
I have always enjoyed gathering with family and friends to share seasonal and favorite meals. We celebrate holidays and family occasions around the table. And so in 2012 I started my personal chef business, ellie cooks. I focus on creating wonderfully fresh meals in the kitchens of my clients, affording them the opportunity to spend more time with their families. Preparing everything from scratch and using sustainable produce, while purchasing meats from our local butchers, has allowed me to offer delicious food to the Charlottesville community. Through my business I have been challenged to grow as a chef and to learn about preparing meals for those with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, IBS, Alzheimer’s, and food allergies. I even had the opportunity to help a UVA football player trim down while maintaining his muscle mass!
My husband established his business as a furniture maker and designer in 2005 as Saine Cabinetry and we have lived in the Charlottesville area for over thirty years, always supporting independent and local businesses. With more than 15 years of professional cooking experience, I now enjoy sharing my creativity, knowledge, and passion for food with local families, couples, and individuals. I believe everyone should enjoy delicious meals in the warmth of their own home surrounded by family and friends.