Kristen Madison

Kristen Madison started Kale Personal Chef Services partly out of her passion for cooking healthy meals. 

Meal-planner Kale Personal Chef Services, owned and operated by Scottsdale resident Kristen Madison, is adding brick and mortar to its repertoire.

Up to now, Madison’s company provides meal planning services for people seeking a personalized approach to their events, as well as those seeking meal delivery or in-home food preparation.

Now, she’s planning to open Organic Chef To Go – a gourmet food operation that will be located across from Scottsdale Airpark, on Hayden Road, this month.

“This is going to allow Kale to expand its reach,” Madison said. “We hope to cater to our working professional demographic and families that need convenient meal options.”

There will be grab-and-go options, daily meal delivery services and chef-curated catering spreads for pick-up and delivery. 

The Chicago area native moved to the Valley from the Midwest in 2013, the same year she started Kale Chef Services.

“My passion for food came to life when I would help my mother prepare holiday dishes and desserts, but I also realized that the foods my family members were eating…well, I wanted it to be healthier,” Madison said.

Before Madison became a Scottsdale entrepreneur, she worked as a private chef and nanny in Chicago. 

She said that the inspiration for her business came from a desire to share her love of healthy eating and to hone her passion for cooking.

Her first step when she arrived in Arizona was to enroll in Estrella Culinary Institute. She had worked in restaurants to expand her skills, but soon realized that the atmosphere wasn’t what she was looking for. 

“It’s hard for female chefs to work in such a male-dominated industry; I was one of two cooks working in the kitchen, and the food we were producing wasn’t essentially what I was passionate about,” she said. “I always bring my A-game, but I knew I could do something more, that I loved and customers would also love.”

While still working at the restaurant, Madison started posting ads on Craigslist for personal chef and meal prep services. She found almost instant success. One of her first clients had recently undergone a lengthy procedure that required dietary restrictions while healing. 

“We cater to more than just those who want to lose weight or eat healthier,” Madison said. 

She explained that Kale’s menus accommodate people going through cancer treatments, terminal illnesses, bone marrow issues, and more. 

“We can provide not only nutrition but also some comfort while they’re going through a stressful time,” Madison said.

Kale focuses on whole food diets with an emphasis on plant-based cooking. Those who are vegetarian, vegan, gluten or dairy-free diets – or those looking for plant-based meals – might find what they’re looking for.

Along with catering, the company offers daily private chef services and weekly meal prep. A sample of meals could include dishes like melon and prosciutto salad, smoky black bean taquitos and a pulled BBQ chicken sandwich.

Madison said the inspiration for the meal plans comes from various things, and two of those are seasonality and supporting local purveyors. 

She explained that menus also depend on what the customer is looking for – and Madison’s mood for that week. 

“There’s a passion behind creating an experience for guests,” she said. “Being part of a special moment, imagining how a dish will it look or taste for a special event…writing menus is tough because it’s such a creative process.”

Madison said that plant-based cooking is her favorite and she enjoys making power bowls and red lentil tacos, which she says are hearty and filling, even though they’re vegetarian.

“West coast food and lifestyle is so much different than the Midwest,” she said. “My business now, I think, embodies vibrant, green, nutritious foods with healthier cooking techniques.” 

Madison said that the best part of being an entrepreneur is being part of her client’s special moments and the creative process behind picking food for an event. 

“Watching items that you’ve worked on for a long period come to fruition, and all of the sacrifice it takes to get to where you are makes it worth it,” she said. 

On the flip side, she said it’s tough being the sole owner because she doesn’t have anyone to bounce new ideas off of. And finding work-life balance is a challenge – and likely will become tougher now that Madison is in the process of opening her first brick-and-mortar gourmet food store.

To learn more about Kale Personal Chef Services, visit kalechefservice.com.