Greater than 70% of Individuals say a rewarding profession or job is extraordinarily essential for them to reside a satisfying life — extra essential than household, mates or wealth. CBS Information interviewed a broad array of staff who selected distinctive jobs, for a sequence we name: Distinctive jobs, extraordinary lives. 


Katya Ekimian, a personal chef with a background in style design, has created customized knit robes for high-profile company at occasions together with the famed Met Gala. She’s effectively conscious of how a lot appearances matter – at a current style world ceremonial dinner, Ekimian, accountable for the meals, not the clothes, knew to verify each seemed and tasted nice.

“I typically work with actors, individuals in style, artwork and design, as a result of I believe there’s a pure connection. With my background, it is pure that my purchasers could be in that line of labor,” she stated. 

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

Katya Ekimian


She has made 5 customized clothes 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 in every of style’s most-watched occasions. 

Whereas she known 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 can be fairly playful and foolish with a few of my purchasers; adorning meals with cattle, themed dinners, writing little messages within the meals. It is all the time good enjoyable when households have youngsters as effectively,” she stated. 

Ekimian stated shiny colours make for excellent visible distinction on a desk. 

Katya Ekimian


It is a provided that her meals must style good for purchasers to maintain coming again, nevertheless it’s additionally essential {that a} desk setting look lovely and bountiful, she stated. She provides private touches to the best way she plates meals and units tables. “With the ability to have full artistic management over a complete night is actually 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, joyful, colourful meal.”

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

Russian-American Ekimian, 25, was born in Washington, D.C., and lived in Cairo, Egypt as a youngster. At age 17, she moved to New York Metropolis to check style on the Parsons College of Design.

In contrast to many non-public cooks, Ekimian entered the sector via an sudden path. As a pupil in New York Metropolis in quest of further earnings, she began cooking meals for rich households. Later, at age 19, whereas working a summer time 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 sturdy consumer checklist 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 company each day – her model of culinary college. 

A lot of her friends attended culinary college 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 mean 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 realized about meals security and picked up different abilities required for the job. “I cooked kilos and kilos of bacon for a buffet. I realized loads about meals security and dealing with. As a result of it was a giant company, every part needed to be by the guide and FDA-approved. It was all standardized. To see meals being produced at that giant a scale was actually informative.”

There was tons of demand for cooks on Martha’s Winery and “usually you are caught with whoever you will discover on an island,” stated Ekimian. “After I obtained there individuals have 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 purchasers for privateness causes, it is house to a number of high-profile summer time 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 individuals’s homes in my overalls and prepare dinner them meals. It actually was an ideal alternative to be in an ideal place with wonderful produce I might get from native farms, plus the set of clientele. My total consumer checklist has webbed off of that summer time,” Ekimian stated. 

She presently juggles about seven to 10 purchasers at a time, which she considers a full workload. A few of her purchasers ask for weekly meal prep, whereas others rent her to prepare dinner for dinner events. 

In New York Metropolis, it is not unusual for a consumer to succeed in out and ask her to prepare dinner for a celebration the day earlier than the occasion.  

“Generally it is like, ‘Are you free tomorrow evening?'” she stated.  

“You possibly can’t be company”

Ekimian occupies a singular place in her purchasers’ lives. She’s cooked for a spread of purchasers with uncommon dietary wants, together with skilled athletes with strict regimens, actors making an attempt 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 sooner or later when a longtime consumer did not eat their meal, “I assumed there should have been one thing unsuitable with it. However they stated, ‘No, it is so yummy, we’re simply full.’ And that is once I realized they’re all on Ozempic,” she instructed CBS MoneyWatch.

However individuals who solely take a number 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 possibly can’t be company, particularly in long-term gigs, nevertheless it’s a stability,” Ekimian stated. “It’s important to be heat and pleasant since you’re in somebody’s house, however you additionally all the time want to keep up a degree of professionalism.” 

She will spend all day in somebody’s house, typically alone, however is not their good friend or part of their household. She tries to keep up a demeanor she describes as “pleasant professionalism.”

Ekimian travels with a ‘granny cart’ hooked up to the entrance of her Citibike. 

Katya Ekimian


She nearly all the time 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 purchasers’ 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 each one you need to do is lie down and go to mattress, and also you understand that you have 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 unimaginable perk of the job and such a particular alternative when you’ve gotten an ideal bond with a household. It all the time makes the job a lot extra enjoyable. And whenever you end your shift, you possibly can go for a stroll and do your individual exploring,” she stated. 

Ekimian has labored in Europe, The Caribbean, New York and Martha’s Winery. 

Katya Ekimian


Full artistic management

In her first job doing meal prep for a household in Harlem, she earned $15 an hour. She now has set hourly, each 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 mean of $38 an hour, and as much as about $60 on the excessive finish. 

She stated she makes extra money than she thinks she would in a style or design job, however nonetheless will get to freelance as a knitwear designer. 

She additionally finds methods to be artistic whereas cooking, each with elements and flavors, and aesthetics – an final result most seen when she caters to style occasions. “There’s some enjoyable crossover to it,” she stated. “That is once I can get actually artistic with what I’m making,” Ekimian stated. 

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

“It might really feel like a dream with the ability to create my very own little world. Designing after which producing each side 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 will be the final word expression of myself.”

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