A Gourmet Chef Assists Kupuna
Chef Michele Ramia of Michele Ramia Co. is taking her passion for cooking and using it to help others. As a single mother of three, she spends her time as a guardian angel to many of Hawaii’s kupuna, doing their grocery shopping and preparing healthy meals that meet their needs and lifestyles.
“I love each and every one of my clients and like to look into their eyes and see what makes them sparkle when I ask, ‘What do you love to eat?’” says Ramia, who jump-started her business early last year. She also serves as a wedding planner and hairstylist, and is a psychology student at UHManoa.
“I build a menu specifically designed for that senior citizen who is diabetic or has salt restrictions,” she adds, “and we break the mold of tasteless cardboard dinners.”
Ramia charges a $15 flat fee for shopping, with an additional $25 an hour cooking fee, noting that it takes one-and-a-half hours on average to prepare an entire four-course meal. The meal consists of a salad, main entree and another vegetable dish and is topped off with a dessert or fruit salad - all while accommodating the dietary needs and restrictions of senior citizens.
“I go to their homes with the groceries and cook it right there. I put some in the freezer for later and they get a hot dinner that night,” explains Ramia, who previously ran Hope Chapel Cafe in Waikele.
“I also make healthy double chocolate chip oatmeal (semi-organic) cookies that I bake for our elderly, and they absolutely love that! The house fills with that homey fragrance of butter and chocolate, and brings back good memories. I bring my own knives and basic things people don’t normally have if they are not a gourmet chef.”
Ramia credits her grandmother, whom she affectionately called Honey Maire, for her love of cooking. She says her grandmother was the life of the party and fed everyone in the neighborhood, even inviting the mailman in for a hot lunch from time to time.
“It warms my heart when people eat my food and think it’s lovely. ‘Good’ means it tastes all right, ‘Mmmm’ means it’s delicious. I always want to be the ‘Mmmm’ girl,” Ramia says with a laugh.
The responses she’s been receiving from her business have been quite positive. According to Ramia, some family members have even teared up when they see their kupuna enjoying a home-cooked meal.
“Maybe I am doing what some sons and daughters can’t do for their parents since they work and have kids of their own,” Ramia says. “I am contributing to society in a positive way - a way that will not only touch people’s tummies, but their hearts. The writer writes, the singer sings, the chef? Well, she shops, cooks and tells jokes while sauteing the tilapia!”
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