Food has always been an important part of Abbye McGee’s life, from learning the basics alongside her grandmother to hosting dinner parties for friends.
After leaving a career in music, McGee began working with local bakeries and caterers and blogging about food several years ago. All of that soon led to a fast-growing personal chef business, Salt + Charm.
But she never thought that a global pandemic would take Salt + Charm to the next level.
After taking about six weeks off at the start of the stay-at-home orders last March, McGee quickly saw an increase in demand for personal chef services.
“People were growing tired of cooking for themselves at home, and it was clear that there was a demand for services like meal prep and delivery and takeout,” McGee said.
Rather than going into people’s homes as she had previously, McGee began renting space at the incubator kitchen in Burgaw, which she describes as a great resource for people testing out new food businesses or looking to grow an existing one.
Over the next 10 months her business grew to a staff of 14, now offering in-home personal chef services and catering as well as carryout from their brick-and-mortar location at 702 S. 17th St. in the Cargo District. The new location serves as the company’s commissary kitchen as well as a grab n’ go breakfast and lunch option.
Customers will find breakfast offerings such as burritos, grain bowls, breakfast sandwiches, bagels and muffins as well as salads, sandwiches and wraps for lunch. McGee said she always has at least two vegan and vegetarian options on the menu and is excited to offer healthy meals for those that live and work near the Cargo District.
McGee, who still works in client’s homes on a regular basis and plans to continue to do so, credits her staff with helping her grow the business.
“I have a great team of women who are all really good at what they do,” McGee said. “It would have been impossible to expand so quickly without a trusted staff to help manage all the moving pieces. They are an amazing group that can get stuff done.”
McGee said that Salt + Charm’s meal prep service is now the biggest part of the business, which offers several different meal prep options for clients, all of which can be found online.
McGee is also in the process of putting together a schedule of cooking classes to be hosted at Salt + Charm’s open kitchen.
Salt + Charm’s current hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Weekends are reserved for private parties and catering.
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