Making the World a Better Place, One Meal at a Time
Nathan Allman (BBA ’15) grew up catching Dungeness crabs and picking wild mushrooms with family friends to bring back to his parents’ seaside restaurant in Newport, Oregon. Surrounded by a community centered on food, Allman developed an affinity for cuisine and the communal culture surrounding it. This affinity, coupled with a humble passion for helping others, would later lead him to start his own food-related service that not only promotes nutritious eating but also transforms the lives of senior citizens.
As a sophomore in the Wisconsin School of Business, Allman brought his passion for food and interest in business together to create Chefs for Seniors, a service that sends chefs into senior citizens’ homes to prepare and serve balanced, nutritious meals.
“The mission is really to improve seniors’ lives through food,” says Allman. “Ultimately, what we’re trying to do is to help elderly people live longer, and live happier, healthier lives in their home. I really started it because I understood that there was a problem out there, and thought I could help.”
In Spring 2013—Allman’s sophomore year—he participated in the School’s annual business plan competition. Along with 36 other competing parties, he submitted a business plan to be judged as the most promising emerging venture. After successfully pitching his idea, Chefs for Seniors won in its category of lifestyle products and services.
From an idea to the kitchen
The win catapulted Allman’s idea from paper into action. With a prize of startup funding from the competition, he was able to get Chefs for Seniors up and running. His first step? Talking to seniors. By engaging with senior citizens and people who work with the elderly, Allman learned how his future customers prepared or purchased meals and what they looked for in a meal service.
“This service is really something that provides sustenance for people who can’t cook for themselves and would otherwise be eating a baked potato or popcorn for dinner,” he says. “Nutrition is important because if people want to live healthy lives, they need to eat right. What you put in your body is ultimately what you become.”
As the demand for service grew, the company based in the Madison, Wisconsin, area expanded to meet rising needs. At the start, Allman cooked for the company’s first dozen customers. Now, a team of 15 chefs services about 130 customers throughout South Florida, Wisconsin, and Chicago. Allman serves as COO, focusing on forming relationships and building a referral network from hospital systems and rehabilitation facilities. That doesn’t mean he has hung up his spatula for good—Allman still gets his hands dirty in the kitchen by training new chefs and keeping in contact with some of the seniors he used to cook for.
A community around food
Allman believes the relationships formed between the chefs and seniors is one of the most important parts of the service.
“The bonds our customers have with the chefs who are in their home every single week, over time, almost becomes as important as the food itself,” he says. “I’ve personally seen that with clients I’ve cooked for in the past.”
For Allman, food is about more than nutrition.
“What food means to me is people coming together,” says Allman. “It’s that sense of community you have when you’re sharing a meal, or even just the act of cooking with somebody. It’s almost therapeutic.”
Allman credits his time at the Wisconsin School of Business for providing the foundation he needed to drive his business to success.
— Nathan Allman (BBA ’15)
COO, Chefs for Seniors
“We’ve really utilized UW in every way that we can,” says Allman. “The knowledge gained in my marketing classes helps us run successful Facebook campaigns, and my accounting classes help with managing company budgets.” Looking toward the future, Allman says Chefs for Seniors will continue to focus on helping to change the lives of senior citizens, one meal at a time.
“There are a lot of folks out there who need help with meals, and I would like to see Chefs for Seniors be able to address that need,” Allman says. “What gets me up and going in the morning is feeling like what I’m doing is helping our customers, helping our chefs, and just doing my small part to make the world a better place.”