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Leading lessons from the kitchen

As more people seek gourmet in-home dining experiences, personal chef Lynn Michelle leads her business into the future

By Ellen linnemann

Since launching her personal-chef business, Chef Lynn Michelle, also known as The East Coast Chef®, has been bringing delicious in-home dining experiences to both local residents and vacationers here in the Lowcountry. Over the past two years, however, as more and more people turned to in-home dining as a result of the pandemic, Chef Lynn Michelle found her business not only serving an important and growing need in the community but literally growing at an unprecedented rate – leading her into the next phase of success for her business.

“I had always been busy with bookings since launching the business, but when the pandemic hit and people moved from dining out to dining at home, people sought me out to prepare restaurant-quality meals for them in their own homes,” she said. “This interest in a more intimate at-home gourmet dining experience has continued even as people resumed dining out, as well. Both long-time residents and visitors discovered the benefits of having a delicious, healthy meal prepared for them right in their home. It allows them to spend more quality time with their family and friends rather than worrying about planning and cooking meals.” As a personal chef, Chef Lynn Michelle and her team handle all aspects of creating and serving customized meals in the comfort of a person’s home or business – including menu planning, grocery shopping, cooking/meal preparation, setting the table, serving the meal and all cleanup. 

Chef Lynn Michelle’s formal training in Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University and experiences living all over the world not only opened her eyes to a wide range of different culinary styles and flavors but enabled her to craft her culinary skills in a unique style. She worked as a private chef in Belgium, (where she also cooked at the White Devils Tennis Club and Junior Wimbledon Tournament held there) and, after returning to the United States, created and owned one of the first Internet cafés in the country before moving to Hilton Head in 2000. She worked at some of the Lowcountry’s most popular restaurants while becoming a serial entrepreneur (including starting a nonprofit basketball camp that carried over to the opening of the golf camp, The First Tee.) When she decided to start her own business as a personal chef, she brought together her passion for cooking with her entrepreneurial skills. She quickly expanded from offering individual and family at-home chef services to doing private and corporate events. 

Established as one of the area’s top personal chefs, Chef Lynn Michelle became sought after for her innovative in-store cooking demos at the area’s top retailers, helping other businesses grow by driving foot traffic to their stores. She’s worked with Billy Woods Appliance Center, Benny Hudson Seafood Market, Golden Isles Olive Oil and Gourmet Shop, Kroger, Piggly Wiggly and Lowcountry Pavers, among others.

Chef Lynn Michelle notes that women personal chefs make up less than 8 percent of the industry. She’s happy to see how others have followed in her footsteps by opening their own personal chef businesses. 

“With so many local residents and vacationers having discovered the joy and convenience of having a healthy gourmet meal prepared for them right in the comfort of their own home, the idea of a personal chef has gone from being considered an occasional luxury to being a convenient part of everyday life here,” Chef Lynn Michelle said. “It’s been exciting for me to have led my business from its humble beginnings as one of the area’s first personal chefs to now being a leader in an industry that is poised for even more growth in the years ahead.”

Chef Lynn Michelle has long believed in the power of food to bring people together and loves sharing her love of cooking with her family. “People love fresh home-cooked meals and the smells of cooking in their houses and love the benefits of having a restaurant-quality healthy meal prepared for them right in their home, allowing them to spend more quality time with their family and friends.” cheflynnmichelle.com

Three takeaways

1. When starting and growing a business, you will need to work really, really hard and never give up.

2. Think carefully about whether your idea is a passion or a viable business idea. “For me, I was sure that I could take my passion for cooking and turn it into a viable business idea,” she said. “Once I knew that, I was able to feel confident about the questions of ‘You’re doing what?’ and ‘How will you make money?’ that I faced in the early days.”

3. It’s key to maintain that balance of life, work and passion for what you do. “Never stop dreaming and achieving new goals,” she stresses. 

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