Our Story

Hope and Hustle

Our company began when my son was turning eighteen and transitioning to adulthood. He said he wanted to be a chef in restaurant. Initially, I giggled and told him, “No you like to eat at restaurants.” Then I realized, no of course, he’d want to cook. He started a gluten/casien free diet when he was a toddler. 18 years ago, no one knew what gluten free was, so I pulled him up on the kitchen island and we baked. Baking and cooking are process driven. You follow the steps and in the end, you get a yummy reward. It’s very satisfying work for him.

Being a chef would’ve been impossible. He wasn’t verbal enough to make it through an interview. If a restaurant would take a chance on him, he’d be relegated to the dishwasher.  He has an incredible palate and like most people on the spectrum amazing detail and process skills.  A dishwashing position would be a waste of his potential and most likely a disaster.

All parents want their children to grow to be happy fulfilled people.  My husband and I had to make career choices that paid the bills and supported the family.  When helping our children plan their futures, we stressed to want more than money. You want to do something interesting. You want to feel like you are doing is something useful. You want to feel like your work is needed, that need gives you a feeling that you are important. Your work adds to your self-worth.

To live the life you want to, to enjoy your work and feel validated is important for everyone but especially for someone with special needs. Work has to be enjoyable, otherwise it’s another tedious task in a world that doesn’t always make sense. So, with a lot of hope and hustle we decided to make his dream of being a chef a reality and give other people’ s children an opportunity for meaningful work as well . In this process, I’ve gained a few pounds and realized I hate frosting , but I’ve found meaningful work.

Timeline

August 2000

Chef J Diagnosed with Autism

Chef J was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum disorder and his Mum in search to help his prognosis and implemented a gluten and dairy free diet. Two weeks in, out of desperation, he was sat on the kitchen counter began cooking something he could and would eat.

October 2001

First Time at Disney World

Chef J's first trip to Walt Disney World. The chefs in their white coats would come to his table to take his order for a his very special meal. They made an incredible impression on him.

March 2003

Chef J's Favorite Meal Discovered

Chef J is able to say his favorite meal is steak, baked potato, water no ice, and chocolate.

2001 - 2008

Baking Breaks

Baking breaks are used for reinforcements during Chef J's ABA program. He prefers to go to Costco over the park.

2010

Making His Own Lunches

Chef J begins shopping for and making his own lunches using a George Foreman grill at his ABA Center. All the RBT's are extremely jealous of the smell of his lunches.

2014

Week Nights Preparing Dinner

Chef J begins making dinner on week nights. (His Mum did the dishes, she still does at the store.)

2015

Trip to IKEA

Chef J plans a family trip to Cincinnati, OH so they can visit IKEA. So, Chef J can spend the day in the store.

October 2016

Future Planning

Chef J's mum pulls his team into a room trying to plan for J's future. She asks him what he wants to do for his "man job". He says he wants to be a chef in a restaurant.

January 2017

First Steps

Chef J's Mum writes a business plan and starts applying to Farmer's Markets.

March 2017

Carmel Farmer's Market Convinced

Chef J's Mum somehow convinces Carmel's Farmer's Market to let them in by telling them she didn't know if they need another gluten free bakery, but Carmel needs this business!

April 2017

Renting Space

Chef Joe at 5280 Pantry allows to rent space in his kitchen and testing starts to happen.

Mother's Day 2017

Opening Day

Opening Day at Carmel Farmer's Market - 3 employees got 4 cookies to the table.

July 4th, 2017

Business Plan Completed

The business plan made for the first 2 years of the business is completed, selling at 3 Farmer's Markets and shipping online begins.

October 2017

Planning a Store Front

Plans for a store front begin.

March 16th, 2018

Grand Opening

Store opens with 13 employees on the spectrum beacon to community.

January 1st, 2019

His Own Man

No more behavior plans, or token economics for Chef J. He's a man, an executive chef, boss, running his kitchen.

May 2019

Help from Little Brother

Chef J's little brother comes home from his first year of college and helps out in the store. He states Chef J is always smiling and talks a lot more. He's even bossing him around. So, the little brother that was forced into the bigger brother is now really the little brother.

June 2019

New Website

An employee rebuilds the website.

Fall of 2019

Leaving for College

3 employees leave for college.