(MJER) Help Has Arrived by Ashley Rae Turner
OCT 25, 2018 | WE GROW
We’ve all been there. A busy day of work, meetings, errands and other obligations. Finally, you get home exhausted with one more thing on your list. Cooking dinner. Other options – you could microwave a frozen meal or maybe reach for some crackers and hummus – but the most healthy thing to do is cook and that requires you to invest at least an hour more of your time … until recently. With the advent of meal services like Blue Apron you could reduce your cooking time, or you could enlist MJER Help to save all your time and do the hard work for you.
MJER Help owners, Michelle J. Elson-Roza and Anthony Roza, went to the same high school (Omaha Burke) and later began dating when they both lived in Chicago. While many new couples come together to plan vacations and outings with friends, Michelle and Anthony had a bigger dream — to work together and own a business. They wanted to combine their love of sustainable food practices, quality guest services, healthy living, and fresh vegetables, but neither knew the perfect avenue for their vision just yet. Michelle worked in the finance industry and her soon-to-be husband had worked in hospitality his entire career, starting as a line cook and server in Omaha’s Old Market and working his way up to restaurant and hotel management.
After getting engaged and deciding to get married in Omaha, they looked for a caterer and venue that was excited about farm-to-table that could provide both vegetarian and vegan options, a task that proved more difficult than they imagined. With Omaha growing and developing a more sophisticated food scene, they saw an opportunity to respond to the same needs they had as busy professionals and when scouting for wedding vendors. After spending 10+ years in the financial industry, Michelle took a leap of faith and applied to culinary school, a long-time dream of hers that came from her love of food and bringing people together.
We love planning and executing the best parties you’ve ever thrown in the your home. And we clean up, too, so there’s no mess the following day!
A few months before starting culinary school, a last minute work trip set the course for MJER Help. Michelle prepped meals for her sister, a small business owner, whose husband would be gone for a conference. Without this help, her sister realized they would have been eating takeout for days. Michelle experienced firsthand just how stressed today’s working professionals are and that the first thing they sacrifice is healthy eating and home cooking. She saw a real need to have healthy food options for both families and professionals who want to balance life and work, but couldn’t afford a full-time personal chef.
While in school, MJER (co-owner, Michelle J. Elson-Roza’s initials) Help quickly expanded from customized meal prep to include event planning and corporate lunches for local startups in Chicago. After Michelle graduated from Kendall College, the culinary duo moved back home to Omaha (around the same time No More Empty Pots (NMEP) and Kitchen Council were launching) to focus on the MJER Help brand. Knowing the shared kitchen model was perfect for them (they are not interested in owning a restaurant, but eventually would love to have a farm to be a event venue), they expanded their business and became one of the first tenants at NMEP.
After further development of their business model to focus more on the highly personalized, weekly chef services and with the addition of new staff members and more partnerships with local brands (this Thanksgiving they will be providing locally sourced turkeys and sides alongside baked goods from Farine + Four and desserts from The Confectionist for purchase) it was time for a bigger space and greater flexibility. It was time to join Kitchen Council. MJER Help is now much more than just a meal prep service. They focus on offering just the right culinary service solution to individuals and are always looking for ways to provide more benefits to their clients (like adding a dietician to their staff in the future). The membership benefits at Kitchen Council – from 24/7 kitchen access to marketing and outreach resources to expert council in other business areas – all support MJER Help’s overall vision for their business.
You shouldn’t have to sacrifice you health to be a successful professional. We understand the hectic schedules of busy professionals and families and our primary goal is to alleviate stress from your lives so you can spend more time excelling at work, taking care of yourself, and most importantly, having additional time to spend with your family and friends!
Photographs courtesy of Anthony Roza and Clare Watson Bartolomei
FULL ARTICLE CAN BE FOUND on the KITCHEN COUNCIL WEBSITE