“A lot of people just don’t know how to eat well,” observed Eliana Grubel. “Even very well-educated people. And they don’t pay attention because there is always something else in front of them.”
And that’s where Grubel comes in.
The Bridgeport-based personal chef is on a mission to ensure her clients across Fairfield County, Westchester County and New York City have the best meals prepared to meet their specific dietary needs — including clients whose livelihood involves the projection of vibrant health.
“I worked with the owner of a gym in Westchester who needed to lose weight,” she recalled with a laugh. “He was very anxious to lose weight. We did a very good job in one month.”
The Brazilian-born Grubel was the daughter of a member of her homeland’s diplomatic corps and spent years in Chile and Uruguay, later marrying and settling in Uruguay to run a deli and a restaurant with her husband. When Uruguay experienced a severe economic crisis at the beginning of the millennium, the couple immigrated to the U.S., arriving in the New York area a few months before the 9/11 attacks.
Grubel secured work as a nanny and strove to improve her English, but her life was slowly pointed in a different direction when her employer expanded her duties beyond childcare.
“While working for the family, they started to ask me to cook,” she recalled. “They liked Italian, Mexican and Middle Eastern recipes. I always felt an attraction for school — I did culinary arts in high school.”
Grubel quickly began to find a talent in the kitchen and soon gained enough confidence in her English and her culinary skills to pursue a new career.
“I put an ad in the Stamford Advocate and got jobs cooking for other people,” she added. “People started calling me.”
But Grubel quickly realized that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for meals — especially when her clients identified problems that they needed to avoid.
“To cook for people with very specific health problems or a lot of allergies is very complicated,” she continued. “People that are called ‘chef’ don’t like to change recipes or adapt, to modify things. That is one thing that makes my service unique. I like to play around with recipes and see when clients eat something they usually don’t eat when I switch ingredients.”
Grubel studied at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition at Columbia University and became a board-certified health counselor with the American Association of Drugless Practitioners upon completion of a year-long training program. She also graduated from the Culinary Business Academy’s Professional Personal Chef Training Program in Atlanta and became a premier member of the United States Personal Chef Association.
She also began researching the theories formulated by Dr. Peter D’Adamo, the naturopathic physician who advocates a distinctive diet tied to a person’s blood type. Beyond her studies, Grubel started to analyze and cut through food marketing to determine the best products for her meals.
“It is very confusing to buy at a supermarket,” she stated. “The good foods have very little marketing. And even in the health stores, you can get very bad food. When shopping, I look for quality food that has no pesticides and no hormones. I encourage clients to buy as much organic food as possible.”
Grubel relies on word-of-mouth recommendations and inquiries via her CleanFood4urType.com website for clients. Due to zoning laws, her food preparation needs to be done at a commercial kitchen or her clients’ homes. She cannot prepare meals at her Bridgeport residence and take them to her clients.
Grubel’s services include creating meals, hosting cooking classes and catering dinner parties. She also formulates short-term detox programs, using plant-based proteins in cold pressed juices and smoothies and probiotic-rich fermented foods matched to the client’s individual needs.
“I believe that if people detoxify once a year, it is a very good way to improve the immune system and get rid of toxins,” she said, noting that detox programs must be time-restrictive and not overdone. “I don’t like to do anything extreme because it could make a person sick.”
Grubel’s client base varies during the course of the year, but one thing that she has tracked is the appreciation of her specially prepared foods.
“People are happy and, depending on the amount of food I prepare, you see the impact on their faces,” she said. “It is amazing to see the effects of how food can change people in a very short time.”