Instagram is so wonderful because it connects you with such amazing people who you might not have met without it! Chris is one of those people. So inspiring, and always positive and supportive. Such a good friend to have in your court and life I think. So I wanted to have him share a bit about himself because he does a lot of cool things!
Q: Hey so could you give a little brief introduction of yourself? Some cool things about you!
A: I started working in the kitchen when I was 14 years old and fell in love with food, cooking and serving others. I did my undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin – Stout, where I earned my bachelor’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism, and was one of the starting running backs for the Blue Devil’s. After college I took a job with a leading multi unit restaurant company in Hillstone. I opened a number of restaurants with them in cities like San Francisco, Newport Beach, Denver, New York, and Scottsdale, eventually settling in Portland and working for another large restaurant company based in the PNW. During my 13 years with the company in Portland, I went back and earned my graduate degree from Gonzaga University in Organizational Leadership and became the Vice President of Operations with them. I also have 2 amazing kids who I adore more than anything!
Q: Could you give me an overview of your awesome company CI Lifestyle Meals and what made you decide to start your company?
A: The simple answer is, I love food! I love food so much that it has been a contributing factor for being both out of shape and overweight, and in shape and lean multiple times throughout my life. Through these periods, I came to understand that eating healthy is a choice, and much easier to do with access to healthy, tasty, and realistic options. As I progressed in my career as an executive level leader in multi-unit chain restaurant companies, I realized two things:
1) The food I was developing was not helping people live healthier, longer lives.
2) My current lifestyle was not helping me prioritize what mattered most in my life—my kids. I was on the road traveling all the time and I couldn’t continue missing out on any more important memories and moments in their lives.
Realizing both of these things, I set out to start a local company (Ci Lifestyle Meals) to serve the community in a positive way. Our motto is “Changing lives one meal at a time…” And that is exactly what we are striving to do each day in the kitchen.
Q: You are super into fitness as well! Can you talk about how your fitness and your healthy lifestyle connects with your food company?
A: Getting in the gym and working out has been in my daily/weekly routine for a long time, but that is only half of the equation. Pairing your workouts and daily movement with a great nutrition plan will give you 9 times the results, which is why I set out to create gourmet style food that is macro friendly. I want people to enjoy the food while helping the feel better physically, mentally and emotionally.
Q: How do you brainstorm what meals you are going to make weekly? And how many times a week do you cook your meals?
A: The process is quite rigorous but very exhilarating for me. Developing food is definitely one of my favorite parts of my job and I usually run a 6 week cycle of menus. I begin by picking certain proteins and deciding whether or not the menu item will be a balanced carb or low carb option. Next, I add a number of different components and flavors to the dish, all while trying to maintain a daily sodium intake under 2,300mg. To do this, I use a lot of fresh juices, herbs, vinegars, and spices. We love our sauce too, as it is a great way to add flavor while controlling your macros! Our food is not just shredded chicken, rice and steamed vegetables like most meal prep companies. Instead, we strive to make sure our clients actually enjoy their food while still achieving their fitness goals!
Most meal prep companies cook and delivery once a week. We cook and deliver twice a week. I eat my own food and personally would not want to be eating food on Friday that was cooked on Sunday. So, we cook the Monday-Wednesday portion of the menu on Sundays and then the Thursday-Friday portion of the menu on Wednesday. Food that is fresh not only tastes better, but it is also higher in micronutrients!
Q: What are some of your favorite things to cook?
A: Right now, my favorite thing to cook has been my chicken thighs! I am able to put them on the menu once a week while maintaining a balanced macro plan. I love our brown rice jambalaya dish with a crispy chicken thighs, and our kung pao chicken thigh bowl. Those are my favorites!
Q: With how precise and specialized meals and macros have to be for some of the body building community you serve did you have to take any extra nutrition classes or do anything extra to know those ratios?
A: I am in the process of getting certified with Precious Nutrition and that has certainly been helpful, but what we do is part art and part science really. The art comes in the form of making food taste great after being cooked, cooled, packed up, and reheated. The science behind it is knowing the macro value of it all. Sometimes I feel like a mathematician pulling numbers from everywhere to get the right answer, but I’ve learned a lot just through practice and having to do it for each menu.
Q: When you have down time what are some of your favorite things to do?
A: Spending time with my kids and being present in their lives is definitely at the top of the list. Being a dad is such a rewarding experience for me, and I love being outside and active. I love being on the water fishing, or just being outdoors in general. I never turn down a great hike!
Q: Where do you want to see your company go hopefully down the road? Are you hoping to expand?
A: I would love to continue to grow and serve the community. However, I will eventually cap how many people we serve from one kitchen location. I don’t feel like we can successfully cook and plate food to the quality and consistency I strive for if we have too many clients. So, once we achieve that magic number, I will look to expand into another area with a new kitchen location. I would love another location in Vancouver, WA, Beaverton, or Salem.
I am also looking to start offering cooking classes twice a month. They would be a great learning class along with a lot of fun. I would certainly do a meal prep class, but would also do classes like Sushi and Sake. I love to cook, I love to teach, and I love to help. Sharing my passion for food and hospitality has always been so important to me!
Q: What is your personal favorite comfort food to eat hands down?
A: Hands down now and forever…PIZZA! Every Friday my kiddos are with me we make homemade pizza and play board games. We cook together in the kitchen with no TV and no electronics. Nothing more than great food, great music, great conversations, and a lot of fun. It is absolutely the highlight of my week!
I would say these are the top things that make our company unique:
- We cook twice a week to ensure freshness.
- We deliver for free.
- We believe in our food so much that we don’t require any sort of commitment when clients sign up.
- We use sustainable packaging and believe a big part of positively changing and impacting lives includes also, positively impacting our environment.
Our team is close not just inside of the kitchen, but outside of the kitchen too. Our cook days are always fun, but we also go out and go dancing together, invite each other to celebrations and events, and I love taking whoever is able to make it out on my boat to fish!