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Meet Christine Ma of Private Kitchen LA and The Hungry Tots in East LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christine Ma.

Christine, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My fascination with food started at a young age. Rather than watching cartoons, I would watch marathons of Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network. Over the years, I’ve taken that fascination and developed it into a career. After studying hospitality administration at Boston University and attending culinary school, I was more sure than ever that I wanted to be a chef. I’ve taken numerous positions including prep cook, line cook, catering cook, and research and development assistant chef, but it wasn’t until I became a private chef that I found the right fit. With each client, I was able to grow and develop my skills, learning new diets I was not even aware of until recently. These past several years, I was concentrating solely on feeding adults; I’ve now decided to branch out and create meals for kids through my meal delivery business, The Hungry Tots. Through The Hungry Tots, I am able to create organic, homemade healthy lunches for children, hopefully improving the way kids eat.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Transitioning into the role of a private chef was not an easy one. With no experience as a private chef, I was faced with the dilemma most people are when applying for a new job. Once someone decided to give me a chance, I thought I finally had my break. Unfortunately, the next couple of years continued to be a struggle. I was constantly searching for more clients, trying to earn a steady income. Little did I know that the phrase “steady income” is not common with the career of a private chef. At one point, I was contemplating switching careers, entering an entirely new industry. I went on interviews to be a sales associate, investment banker and even took on a job as an office assistant for a couple months. But at the end of the day, I always came crawling back to cooking; that fire never completely burned out. Fast forward 5 years later and after really putting my business out there, I now have people reaching out to me rather than me seeking them.

Please tell us about Private Kitchen LA and The Hungry Tots (2 Businesses).
My Private Kitchen LA business is a private chef business that can prepare food for people on a regular basis or for special events. I can prepare a wide variety of cuisines and will prepare menus specifically tailored for you. I have worked closely with people on many different dietary restrictions and am comfortable working with gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, Keto, Paleo, you name it, and I’ve done it. Many people have dietary restrictions but don’t know how to prepare meals to fit those limits. I take the stress off and create menus and prepare meals that are delicious but still follow those guidelines.

My other company, The Hungry Tots is a meal delivery company catering towards children. We prepare homemade lunches with all organic ingredients and deliver them straight to their school. Everything is prepared in house including the bread, baked goods, and sauces, which means no preservatives. The menus change every month, providing variety yet still delivering on tasty lunches kids will love.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite memory from childhood has to be when I went to my first concert. I had the biggest crush on a certain boy band (that shall remain unnamed) and my friend was generous enough to invite me to their show. I still remember their opening song where they were dressed up like puppets on strings. I sung my heart out to every song, not caring how off tune I was. After the concert, I went home and wrote down the whole event in my diary, making sure I would never forget that day.

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