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Greater than 70% of People say a rewarding profession or job is extraordinarily essential for them to stay a satisfying life — extra essential than household, mates or wealth. CBS Information interviewed a broad array of employees who selected distinctive jobs, for a collection we name: Distinctive jobs, extraordinary lives. 


Katya Ekimian, a personal chef with a background in trend design, has created customized knit robes for high-profile friends at occasions together with the famed Met Gala. She’s effectively conscious of how a lot appearances matter – at a current trend world ceremonial dinner, Ekimian, answerable for the meals, not the clothes, knew to verify each regarded and tasted nice.

“I usually work with actors, individuals in trend, artwork and design, as a result of I feel there’s a pure connection. With my background, it is pure that my shoppers can be in that line of labor,” she mentioned. 

Ekimian, 25, has constructed a full roster of high-profile shoppers by phrase of mouth. 

Katya Ekimian


She has made 5 customized clothes for Sandra Jarvis Weiss, who’s married to Daniel Weiss, the previous CEO and President of the Met, for the museum’s annual ball, one in all trend’s most-watched occasions. 

Whereas she known as the expertise “a really particular chapter” in her design profession, she now spends her time fascinated with meals, together with its taste and bodily type. 

“I like highlighting produce as near its pure type and taste. I can be fairly playful and foolish with a few of my shoppers; adorning meals with cattle, themed dinners, writing little messages within the meals. It is at all times good enjoyable when households have youngsters as effectively,” she mentioned. 

Ekimian mentioned vibrant colours make for nice visible distinction on a desk. 

Katya Ekimian


It is a provided that her meals must style good for shoppers to maintain coming again, but it surely’s additionally essential {that a} desk setting look lovely and bountiful, she mentioned. She provides private touches to the way in which she plates meals and units tables. “Having the ability to have full inventive management over a complete night is admittedly enjoyable,” she mentioned. “It has a lot to do with appearances, and I actually get pleasure from making meals look actually fairly and enjoyable. I like a giant, glad, colourful meal.”

It isn’t simply aesthetic — consuming meals of various colours appears to be like good and likewise “makes for nice dietary steadiness,” Ekimian mentioned. 

Russian-American Ekimian, 25, was born in Washington, D.C., and lived in Cairo, Egypt as a youngster. At age 17, she moved to New York Metropolis to review trend on the Parsons Faculty of Design.

In contrast to many non-public cooks, Ekimian entered the sphere by way of an sudden path. As a pupil in New York Metropolis seeking further earnings, she began cooking meals for rich households. Later, at age 19, whereas working a summer season job at a farm on Martha’s Winery, an island off the coast of Massachusetts, she resumed non-public cheffing and has since constructed a strong shopper checklist by phrase of mouth.

“Proper place on the proper time”

“I used to be on the proper place on the proper time, however I additionally had the expertise,” Ekimian informed CBS MoneyWatch. She had labored as a personal chef making ready weekly meals for a household in Harlem, New York; a gig she secured by responding to a job posting on Care.com, a website that connects households with caregivers. She had additionally labored at a meals corridor at Yosemite Nationwide Park, cooking buffet-style meals for greater than 500 friends day by day – her model of culinary college. 

A lot of her friends attended culinary college and later entered the restaurant world. There are roughly 174,400 cooks and head cooks within the U.S., in line with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2022, the median wage for cooks was $56,520. Against this, there are fewer non-public cooks, who earn a mean of $45,510 yearly, in line with the BLS. 

Ekimian paved her path by combining her inventive sensibility along with her on-the-job expertise on the meals corridor. 

“It was the precise reverse of being a personal chef,” she mentioned, including that it is the place she realized about meals security and picked up different expertise required for the job. “I cooked kilos and kilos of bacon for a buffet. I realized loads about meals security and dealing with. As a result of it was a giant company, every thing needed to be by the guide and FDA-approved. It was all standardized. To see meals being produced at that enormous a scale was actually informative.”

There was tons of demand for cooks on Martha’s Winery and “usually you are caught with whoever you’ll find on an island,” mentioned Ekimian. “Once I acquired there individuals have been excited that I used to be new there, they usually mentioned, ‘Let’s use her.'”

Whereas she did not disclose the names of her shoppers for privateness causes, it is dwelling to a number of high-profile summer season residents starting from Hollywood actors to gamers within the political sphere. Former President Barack Obama has owned an island dwelling since 2020. 

“That basically launched my profession. I’d go over to individuals’s homes in my overalls and cook dinner them meals. It actually was an ideal alternative to be in an ideal place with wonderful produce I’d get from native farms, plus the set of clientele. My total shopper checklist has webbed off of that summer season,” Ekimian mentioned. 

She at present juggles about seven to 10 shoppers at a time, which she considers a full workload. A few of her shoppers ask for weekly meal prep, whereas others rent her to cook dinner for dinner events. 

In New York Metropolis, it isn’t unusual for a shopper to succeed in out and ask her to cook dinner for a celebration the day earlier than the occasion.  

“Generally it is like, ‘Are you free tomorrow night time?'” she mentioned.  

“You’ll be able to’t be company”

Ekimian occupies a singular place in her shoppers’ lives. She’s cooked for a spread of shoppers with uncommon dietary wants, together with skilled athletes with strict regimens, actors attempting to chop weight for film roles, and other people experimenting with a brand new crop of appetite-suppressing medicine, like Ozempic. 

She turned involved in the future when a longtime shopper did not eat their meal, “I believed there should have been one thing incorrect with it. However they mentioned, ‘No, it is so yummy, we’re simply full.’ And that is once I realized they’re all on Ozempic,” she informed CBS MoneyWatch.

However individuals who solely take a couple of bites of meals and gawk on the relaxation make up a small sliver of her clientele – many others open up their lives and houses to her. It may be a tricky steadiness, she mentioned. 

“You’ll be able to’t be company, particularly in long-term gigs, but it surely’s a steadiness,” Ekimian mentioned. “It’s important to be heat and pleasant since you’re in somebody’s dwelling, however you additionally at all times want to keep up a stage of professionalism.” 

She will be able to spend all day in somebody’s dwelling, usually alone, however is not their pal or part of their household. She tries to keep up a demeanor she describes as “pleasant professionalism.”

Ekimian travels with a ‘granny cart’ hooked up to the entrance of her Citibike. 

Katya Ekimian


She virtually at all times works solo; it is not often cost-effective to rent assist. Which suggests she spends most of her days alone. That features time spent purchasing for groceries and substances, prepping meals, labeling Tupperware containers and organizing shoppers’ fridges. She sources the majority of her substances from farmers markets or straight from farms. 

“It is lonely, and it is the identical for everybody. You are so drained on the finish of the day that every one you wish to do is lie down and go to mattress, and also you notice that you’ve got been alone for 15 hours,” she mentioned.

There are upsides to her distinctive association that make it a satisfying profession, although. She usually travels with households she cooks for, with jobs taking her to Europe and the Caribbean.

“It is an unbelievable perk of the job and such a particular alternative when you’ve got an ideal bond with a household. It at all times makes the job a lot extra enjoyable. And once you end your shift, you may go for a stroll and do your individual exploring,” she mentioned. 

Ekimian has labored in Europe, The Caribbean, New York and Martha’s Winery. 

Katya Ekimian


Full inventive management

In her first job doing meal prep for a household in Harlem, she earned $15 an hour. She now has set hourly, day by day and month-to-month charges, relying on the size of a job. In line with Certainly.com, New York Metropolis-based non-public cooks earn a mean of $38 an hour, and as much as about $60 on the excessive finish. 

She mentioned she makes extra money than she thinks she would in a trend or design job, however nonetheless will get to freelance as a knitwear designer. 

She additionally finds methods to be inventive whereas cooking, each with substances and flavors, and aesthetics – an end result most seen when she caters to trend occasions. “There may be some enjoyable crossover to it,” she mentioned. “That is once I can get actually inventive with what I’m making,” Ekimian mentioned. 

Her fantasy is for her dinner friends to put on her knitwear creations whereas consuming her meals. 

“It will really feel like a dream having the ability to create my very own little world. Designing after which producing each facet of what goes on the physique and inside it,” she mentioned. “For me, cooking and creating clothes can also be a type of love so it might be the final word expression of myself.”

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