From Summit to Success: A Chef Entrepreneur Identifies a Niche Market

Filed under: Bites & Bits , Author: Caron Golden , November 19, 2012

Dear Readers:

This summer, I received a heartfelt and inspirational letter from one of our members, Stefan Niemczyk, who attended the APPCA’s 2012 Personal Chef Summit in San Diego earlier this year. Following that very successful event, and armed with valuable information and encouragement from his peers, Stefan founded eliteEATS as chef/owner in April.

Stefan played football for Bucknell University and went on to graduate from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, Calif. His new business designs custom meal programs for families, producing everything at an incubator kitchen to deliver meals to their homes. Stefan and his team cook “Paleo,” which essentially means no wheat, no processed sugar, no dairy, and limited starch. As one can imagine, it can be challenging to come up with delicious meals that meet those criteria. But he had good reason to try, as you’ll read.

eliteEATS’ braised beef shortrib with arugula.

At the time of his letter, Stefan’s website had launched with only a single page, but six months later is a telling tribute to his success as a personal chef and entrepreneur who found a niche market badly in need of serving. Visit to view Stefan’s mouthwatering seasonal menu. For more information on the sport/gym known as Crossfit, visit

We at the APPCA are very proud of this remarkable young chef. Following are excerpts of Stefan’s wonderful letter:

Hey Chef Candy!

My name is Stefan Niemczyk. I met you at the Summit in San Diego. I was actually the young man who came with his mother, Jeannette. I wanted to email you on my progress thus far with my new small business, eliteEATS.

Let’s start from the beginning. I had this ideal demographic in mind for the type of business I wanted to start. It was going to be a personal-chef service aimed at a very particular clientele.

See, I am a former athlete along with being a graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. I also compete in a sport known as Crossfit. It is a new sensation that is sweeping the country. New gyms seem to be popping up everywhere! It originated in the military as a fitness and training program, and now has brought itself mainstream into the public eye.

Gym memberships are expensive, sometimes up to $300 a month, and the type of people that attend these gyms are extremely dedicated to their health and fitness. As you know, nutrition is a key component to any health and fitness routine. I planned to take advantage of that fact.

I was so inspired at the Summit that I began drafting my business plan while in the meetings—LOL. I stayed up at night in the hotel working on it, and by the end of that weekend I had drafted my business plan, opened a business account at the Bank of America down the street from the hotel and even picked a name. I had the guidance and a newfound confidence from the Summit, and I was ready to go.

After a few months to get some resources and funds in line I started the business officially 8 weeks ago with one client. All in all, it cost me a little under 10 grand. Well, are you ready … we have 10 clients that we are serving now, 10 families all from one. I say “we” because I had to hire two other chefs to help me with volume, and we even started renting an incubator kitchen (like the one I learned about at the Summit) so we can do large-scale production for our families. We are literally growing every week!

I just met with a website designer. We just have one page right now that links to our Facebook page (social media! Learned about it at the Summit!) and allows you to e-mail me directly at You can check it out; we are hoping to finish it by the end of the month.

All in all I am very happy—very, very happy. What’s my next step? Well, I have so many ideas in my head. We are going to start selling certain items (the more popular ones) like our hummus and pesto and energy bars. Still? I would love to open a food truck that would go from Crossfit gym to Crossfit gym, selling food à la carte and signing people up for the full program. Eventually I would love to franchise eliteEATS and see if I can find someone on the East Coast who shares my passion for food and fitness!

Thank you so much for all you have done for me and for all of us “personal” chefs. I’m using quote marks because I don’t refer to myself as a personal chef—I call myself a “chef entrepreneur,” because that is truly what we are!

Stefan Niemczyk

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Caron Golden


Founder of premier organization of personal chefs inspires students to follow their dreams of culinary entrepreneurship.

Candy Wallace, executive director of the American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA), today was recognized by Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies as its 33rd Distinguished Guest Chef.

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