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Greater than 70% of People say a rewarding profession or job is extraordinarily essential for them to dwell 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 visitors 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, in command of the meals, not the attire, knew to ensure each regarded and tasted nice.

“I typically work with actors, folks 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 stated. 

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

Katya Ekimian


She has made 5 customized attire 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 among trend’s most-watched occasions. 

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

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

Ekimian stated brilliant colours make for nice visible distinction on a desk. 

Katya Ekimian


It is a on condition that her meals must style good for shoppers to maintain coming again, however it’s additionally essential {that a} desk setting look lovely and bountiful, she stated. 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 stated. “It has a lot to do with appearances, and I actually take pleasure in making meals look actually fairly and enjoyable. I really like a giant, blissful, colourful meal.”

It isn’t simply aesthetic — consuming meals of various colours seems good and in addition “makes for nice dietary stability,” Ekimian stated. 

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

Not like many non-public cooks, Ekimian entered the sector via an surprising path. As a scholar in New York Metropolis looking for 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 consumer listing 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 instructed CBS MoneyWatch. She had labored as a personal chef getting 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 visitors day by day – her model of culinary faculty. 

Lots of her friends attended culinary faculty 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. In contrast, there are fewer non-public cooks, who earn a median of $45,510 yearly, in line with the BLS. 

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

“It was the precise reverse of being a personal chef,” she stated, including that it is the place she discovered about meals security and picked up different abilities required for the job. “I cooked kilos and kilos of bacon for a buffet. I discovered lots about meals security and dealing with. As a result of it was a giant company, all the pieces needed to be by the ebook 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,” stated Ekimian. “Once I received there folks had been excited that I used to be new there, they usually stated, ‘Let’s use her.'”

Whereas she did not disclose the names of her shoppers for privateness causes, it is house 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 house since 2020. 

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

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 is not unusual for a consumer to succeed in out and ask her to cook dinner for a celebration the day earlier than the occasion.  

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

“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 folks experimenting with a brand new crop of appetite-suppressing medication, like Ozempic. 

She grew to become involved at some point when a longtime consumer did not eat their meal, “I believed there will need to have been one thing flawed with it. However they stated, ‘No, it is so yummy, we’re simply full.’ And that is after I realized they’re all on Ozempic,” she instructed CBS MoneyWatch.

However folks 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 stability, she stated. 

“You’ll be able to’t be company, particularly in long-term gigs, however it’s a stability,” Ekimian stated. “You must be heat and pleasant since you’re in somebody’s house, however you additionally at all times want to take care of a degree of professionalism.” 

She will be able to spend all day in somebody’s house, typically alone, however is not their pal or part of their household. She tries to take care of 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 implies she spends most of her days alone. That features time spent purchasing for groceries and elements, prepping meals, labeling Tupperware containers and organizing shoppers’ fridges. She sources the majority of her elements from farmers markets or immediately 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 understand that you’ve got been alone for 15 hours,” she stated.

There are upsides to her distinctive association that make it a satisfying profession, although. She typically 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 gotten an amazing bond with a household. It at all times makes the job a lot extra enjoyable. And if you end your shift, you possibly can go for a stroll and do your personal exploring,” she stated. 

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 response to Certainly.com, New York Metropolis-based non-public cooks earn a median of $38 an hour, and as much as about $60 on the excessive finish. 

She stated she makes more cash 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 elements and flavors, and aesthetics – an end result most seen when she caters to trend occasions. “There may be some enjoyable crossover to it,” she stated. “That is after I can get actually inventive with what I’m making,” Ekimian stated. 

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

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

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