- Associated Press - Thursday, March 5, 2015

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) - Lynn Wells now laughs at the menus she created as a child for her make-believe restaurant, “Lu Lu’s.”

She had no idea the sweet-tea-and-butter-stained menus she created at age 10 from items in the refrigerator were a glimpse into her future.

Since September, Wells, 55, has run her own personal-chef business, Thyme Well Spent.

“Without a doubt, this is what I was meant to do,” Wells said. “It’s all come together.”

The journey to owning her own business was a long and winding one.

It’s a journey her little sister and former Lu Lu’s customer, Mary Clair Wall, saw years ago when Wells would make her a butterfly grilled sandwich - a grilled cheese sandwich cut diagonally with olives for the body.

“I don’t know what took her so long,” Wall said. “We were raised around good food.”

What started with her childhood make-believe restaurant blossomed into jobs in the food-service business, most at Moses Cone Hospital.

Wells worked at the hospital from 1986 through 2007, first in charge of the cafeteria and then catering before being certified as a dietician through a program at UNCG.

With her certification, Wells was placed in charge of the meals that made their way to patients at the hospital.

Wells worked with chefs at the hospital designing a variety of menus and picking up some on-the-job training.

“At Cone, I worked closely with a lot of chefs,” Wells said. “They noticed the interest I had and wanted to teach me all they knew.”

That time spent with the chefs eventually paid off.

After leaving Cone in 2007, Wells went to work with a local nonprofit. But in January 2014, she was laid off.

One night shortly after she was let go from her job, she received a phone call from a friend in Florida who needed her help.

The friend, who knew of her cooking abilities, just had surgery and wanted to know: Could Wells come help with the cooking?

It was a no-brainer, and before long, Wells was on her way to Florida.

Her task - to prepare daily meals for a vegan, a vegetarian and meat eater.

“She and her husband said I should be a personal chef, but I really didn’t know what to do,” Wells said.

A phone call to another friend - a personal chef in Atlanta, who also encouraged her to do it - cleared the way.

“Things just started falling into place,” she said.

Wells researched what she needed to do to start her own personal-chef business, applied for her licenses and was on her way.

Wells now cooks everything from vegan dishes to comfort food for five clients.

One of those clients is Tomi Bryan.

Wells prepares three servings of four different entrees for Bryan’s family every Monday. The menu constantly gets new additions with Wells’ sesame chicken and meatloaf being among the favorites, Bryan said.

“We have foodies in our house, and we love her food,” Bryan said. “Coming into the house every Monday about 5 p.m. is my favorite time because you can smell all the food Lynn has cooked.”

The menus Wells makes now have come a long way from the ones filled with ham and cheese sandwiches and hot dogs.

These days, Wells gets to let her creative mind run wild and free every week in the kitchens of her clients.

“I get to do what I like to do in my clients’ homes,” Wells said. “I can take all I know about food and tailor any recipe to their liking.”

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Information from: News & Record, https://www.news-record.com

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