IAM2093 – Nutritional Chef Creates Healthy Dishes with a Modern Twist

Podcast Interview with Melissa Eboli

In this episode, we have Melissa Eboli, a nutritional chef and the mind behind, based in New York.

Melissa shares her journey from cooking as a hobby to becoming a successful entrepreneur, specializing in allergy-friendly and healthy catering services.

She talks about her unique approach to food, emphasizing made-from-scratch ingredients and the personal touch she brings to her catering business, which sets her apart in the industry.

Melissa also offers insights into how she navigated the business world, found her niche catering to individuals with food sensitivities, and grew her client base.

She provides valuable advice for budding entrepreneurs on being persistent, adaptable, and turning passion into a profitable business.

Listeners can learn more about Melissa's services, including event catering, dinner parties, and cooking classes, and how she has made a mark with appearances in media outlets like Dr. Oz, Women's Day, Reader's Digest, and Huffington Post.


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Melissa Eboli Teaser 00:00

Most catering companies, you either have a team of chefs or, somebody that just goes out and buys a lot of prepackaged foods. What differentiates me is that I am the sole chef and I cook single-handedly, almost every ingredient that is served and it's most of the time it's made from scratch.

So I really put that true emphasis on the food, the flavor and the customization that not a lot of caterers bring to the table, so to say.

Intro 00:24

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkness values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I AM CEO Podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:52

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast. And I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Melissa Eboli of Melissa, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Melissa Eboli 01:02

Thank you so much for having me here today. I'm super excited to be here.

Gresham Harkless 01:05

Awesome. I'm super excited to have you on. And what I wanted to do was just read a little bit more about Melissa so you can hear all the awesome things that she's doing. Melissa Eboli, aka Chef via Melissa, is a nutritional chef based out of New York. Her services include event catering, dinner parties, cooking classes and recipe development.

But she's not in the kitchen. She could be seen making great guest appearances on Dr Oz. In addition to being published in the likes of Women's Day, Reader's Digest and Huffington Post to name a few. Her passion as a chef is to create healthy dishes with a modern twist using the cleanest of ingredients.

Melissa, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Melissa Eboli 01:44

Definitely bring it on.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 01:45

All right, let's do it. So the first question I had was for if we can drill down a little bit deeper and hear a little bit more about your CEO story and what led you to start your business.

Melissa Eboli 01:54

Totally. So cooking pretty much was always a hobby of mine for as long as I can remember and, just helping my mom out during the holidays.

And I grew up in a big family. So I was basically always around food. And as I got a little bit older in my 20s, 20s, I started to go out on my own in the kitchen. So to say that's about the time when I started eating healthier rather. And I just started playing around with recipes and putting my own unique twist with it.

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And then whenever I would have guests over and have dinner parties, a lot of my friends would always rant and rave about my food and they would just say, Oh my God, you should open up a restaurant or do something with this. And it was always just a hobby of mine until as I got a little bit older, I actually started to develop food allergies, specifically gluten and dairy.

And then anytime I went to, a party or a catered affair, I always found it a bit frustrating that it was hard to find allergy-friendly foods at these events. Or if there were something that the caterer could accommodate. It never really tasted good. So I saw a niche and a need and the marketplace.

So I basically took my hobby of, cooking and then just launched a personal chef and catering business where I filled that gap of, presenting delicious, nutritious food that's allergy-friendly, but also tastes really good.

Gresham Harkless 03:10

I love that. And especially obviously the taste really good part, but it's like this concept of kind of scratching your own niche.

Like you mentioned, you had an issue where, you couldn't find when you're going to these parties exactly food that was, like you said exactly what you would be able to eat and not have to deal with any aftermath from that. And you created that, but then you also found it sounds like there were other people that need it and wanted to do the exact same things.

Is that correct?

Melissa Eboli 03:32

Yep. Totally. And much to my surprise, There's quite a few people out there. I've had such a lot, a large success in such a short amount of time. And actually right earlier today, I was just tallying up in under two years. I've actually had 90 client events in under two years. So it's, yeah, there's quite a lot of people out there with some allergies and sensitivities.

Gresham Harkless 03:52

Yeah, that makes perfect sense. And now I wanted to drill a little bit deeper in here, a little bit more about how you serve like the clients you work with, what kind of things that you do for them.

Melissa Eboli 03:59

Yeah, so there's actually a couple of different aspects in which I go about doing that. So I do cooking classes and I do that, whether it's couples, I get a lot of bachelorette parties or just girls nights out in general.

And then I've also done cooking classes. I have a couple of corporate clients that I work with. And in addition to the cooking classes, I also do personal chef services more specifically for dinner parties. So if you have, let's say a bunch of couples that want to get together or if it's something celebratory, I've done quite a bit of 50 and 60 60th birthday parties that it's a nice pleated sit down dinner between 11 and 30 guests typically.

And then the third level of my business is that I also do catering. And then, that could be anywhere from cocktail style catering to buffet set up as well as to a plated sit down meal. And I do have some staff that I work with, thankfully that do help me out with all of that.

Gresham Harkless 04:53

Yeah, absolutely.

Sounds like a lot that you have to juggle. So I'm sure being able to have a good team and people to help you out with is definitely a good way to ensure that the goal is met, so to speak. Mhm. Definitely. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Now I wanted to ask you for what I call your secret sauce.

And this might be something that I guess maybe pun intended. It's something that you feel like in your business or your organization makes you and your organization unique.

Melissa Eboli 05:15

Yeah, totally. So obviously being able to serve that niche of, doing allergy-friendly catering is part of my secret sauce.

But to also add to that notion, especially when it comes to catered affairs, that most catering companies, you either have a team of chefs or, somebody that just goes out and buys a lot of prepackaged foods. What differentiates me is that I am the sole chef and I cook single-handedly, almost every ingredient that is served and it's most of the time it's made from scratch.

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So I really put that true emphasis on the food, the flavor and the customization that not a lot of caterers bring to the table, so to say.

Gresham Harkless 05:52

Oh wow, that's huge. And so I'm guessing like a lot of caterers sometimes when you get things catered for, your dinner party or like you mentioned, like a part of a bachelorette party or whatever.

A lot of the times the food isn't actually prepared from like beginning to end soup to nuts, so to speak.

Melissa Eboli 06:06

Correct. Yes, that is sure.

Gresham Harkless 06:07

Okay. Okay. That's obviously a great thing that you're, you're providing for the clients that you work with. And what I wanted to do was now switch gears a little bit and ask you for what I call a CEO hack, and this could be an app or a book or a habit that you have, but it's something that makes you more effective and efficient as an entrepreneur or business owner.

Melissa Eboli 06:25

So there's definitely quite a few books that I've read out there, but in giving thought to this, I would think the biggest hack that I've had, which I, Okay. Actually found by accident by doing market research is it's both an app as well as a website called thumbtack and specifically for anybody that's a business owner in the service-related industry.

It's not just for chefs, but it's also beneficial if you are a photographer, makeup, artist, videographer, or even in construction or do house cleaning. But thumbtack has just been huge and instrumental for my business and obtaining a client base and continues to be to this day.

Gresham Harkless 07:03

Yeah, I definitely agree.

That's definitely a great CEO hack. And a lot of times people are looking for certain services. So if I'm correct, they go on the website and they basically say what they're looking for and then you're able to respond to that.

Melissa Eboli 07:12

Yeah. So pretty much, if you were the business owner, you would just sign up your services on the website and then customers do go to see, seek out those services.

And then you would just respond and then bid against other people in your space to land that client.

Gresham Harkless 07:26

Nice. Nice. Nice. Yes. That's that's obviously a phenomenal CEO hack. If it helps people to get more business and opportunities to show the services that they provide. So I love that CEO hack. And now I want to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget.

And this might be something that you would tell your younger business self or like a piece of advice or word of wisdom or a few that you have that you would tell other entrepreneurs and business owners.

Melissa Eboli 07:46

Definitely. The one thing that I would say say is to just be persistent and constantly apply yourself as well as be adaptive by being persistent.

Let's say whether you're service-based or you're a brick and mortar, just because the shop is open doesn't mean that the clients are going to flood in. You have to be out there, make partnerships and make relationships. But also be adaptive in the sense that what your initial business plan or business goal might not end up being what you're doing, be open-minded to try new things and be flexible, with what it is that you're offering, especially if it is service-based.

Gresham Harkless 08:21

Yeah. And that, that makes perfect sense. And I love that those CEO nuggets, just because a lot of times, you automatically think you're going to do one thing and then sometimes you, when you're building your business, you realize you.

Like you did, I think in the very beginning that you had, you pivoted because you found out there were a lot of people that needed those type of services that you provided.

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So you started to create a business around that.

Melissa Eboli 08:40

A hundred percent. Yep. Exactly.

Gresham Harkless 08:42

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. And now I wanted to ask you, which is my absolute favorite question, which is like the definition of being a CEO. And what we're hoping to do is attract and have different types of quote-unquote CEOs on this podcast.

So I want to ask you, Melissa, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Melissa Eboli 08:55

To me, being a CEO pretty much means that I am in charge of my destiny. And I get to pursue a career, at least in my particular shoes, that it was once a hobby that and, it's just a passion project that I was able to turn into a successful, growing business model.

And although I do put a lot of work and effort into my business, Just being, I don't know, I guess being a CEO and just being proud of what you're doing. A lot of times it doesn't feel like work and I'm just truly passionate and although I do work probably way more than 40 hours as most entrepreneurs and CEOs do, it doesn't always feel like I'm working those 60 to 80 hours a week because it just feels like I'm pursuing a hobby and Getting paid for that hobby.

Gresham Harkless 09:36

Yeah. And that's a perfect example of success of being and having something that you truly love doing and that you're able to convert that into a business. So I think that's pretty awesome that you've been able to do what a lot of people hope to do. And that's pretty phenomenal in my eyes.

Melissa Eboli 09:49

Thank you. Totally.

Gresham Harkless 09:51

Awesome. Awesome. What I wanted to do now was Melissa, I truly appreciate you for taking some time. I wanted to pass you the mic, so to speak, to see if there's anything additional you might want to let our readers and our listeners know, and also how best people can get ahold of you.

Melissa Eboli 10:03

Definitely. So I would say for any additional tips that I would love to give is. If you have something that you're passionate about and you're confident about, don't let any external influences discard you from doing it. Meaning, when I first had my idea for my business, a lot of people were like, oh my God, you're crazy.

You're leaving, a really great position to go out in your own and start your business. And I'm so happy. I took that chance. Had I not taken that chance, I wouldn't be sitting here on this call with you today. But so definitely just, if you, if you're confident in a skill set or a trade that you have, or you just have some burning desire, definitely go for it.

Gresham Harkless 10:40

Awesome. Awesome. I love it. And in people who wants to follow up, what's the best way for them to do that?

Melissa Eboli 10:45

So you can definitely go check out my website. It's That's V I A M E L I S S A. com. Or if you are on social media, both on Facebook and Instagram, I can be found as chef via Melissa.

Gresham Harkless 11:00

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. And we'll have those links in the show notes just in case anybody wants to follow up. But Melissa, I truly appreciate you for all the awesome things that you're doing and how you're helping so many people out. I'm I'm super happy that I ate before I had this interview just to make sure I wasn't too too hungry.

But again, I appreciate you and you're doing some awesome work and have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Melissa Eboli 11:19

Thank you. Same to you. Much appreciation.

Outro 11:21

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community.

Want to level up your business even more? Read blogs, listen to podcasts, and watch videos. Also check out our I AM CEO Facebook group. This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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