We believe that chefs have a responsibility to cook food that is supportive and nourishing to our bodies.
Vita (pronounced VEE-TA) means life force in Latin.
This life force is the energy that runs through you and through me, and this is the life force behind Vita Kitchen, and what makes our company thrive.
Vita Kitchen is born out of the idea that chefs have a responsibility to not only cook delicious food, but to cook food that is supportive and nourishing to our bodies. We don’t believe in one-size-fits-all diets. We believe that our bodies each have different nutritional needs, and when we meet those individual needs we feel at our best.
At Vita Kitchen we know that modern life is busy, and most of us are functioning on information and decision overload. We support our clients, by taking some of their to-dos off their list. We free up time so our clients can enjoy a stress-free meal with their family. We give people peace of mind that their food choices are taken care of, and that the food they eat from us will indeed nourish, and strengthen, their bodies.
Elyse Bekins, Owner & Executive Chef
Elyse’s culinary journey started as a young teenager when she received a Le Cordon Bleu dessert book — a gift from her aunt — and started cooking her way through it. Throughout her teens she could often be found playing around in the kitchen, but also had a natural affinity towards her mom’s garden and nature. She went on to earn a degree in Environmental Studies from UCSB, and followed her curiosity working and volunteering on several organic farms across the world, including a goat dairy in Israel.
She received her culinary degree from NECI (New England Culinary Institute) in 2011, and honed her skills as a line cook at Riverpark, a Tom Colicchio restaurant in NYC. Following Riverpark she completed a cheese affinage internship with Murray’s Cheese, and went on to help open and manage their restaurant in Greenwich village.
Leaving restaurant life, Elyse started her own private chef and catering company in 2014, providing boutique private chef services for numerous households and companies throughout NYC and the Hamptons. Her passion for crafting seasonal menus, fine attention to detail, and discerning palate served her well in this business and her client list continued to grow. Never satisfied to simply stay put, her passion for growth and learning led her to dive more into health and nutrition. In 2016 she earned a certificate in plant-based nutrition from Cornell, and began to take on more private clients with specific health needs.
In 2017 Elyse decided to leave NYC and moved back home to the San Francisco Bay Area, to help take care of her grandmother. She wanted to combine her experience as a private chef with her passion for health and nutrition so she started Vita Kitchen, a highly personalized meal delivery service, bringing fresh, chef-curated meals into households throughout the Bay Area. She enjoys living close to her family, reading and writing poetry, walking her dog Fiona, and going for hikes in the East Bay hills.
Chandler Henry, Operations Lead
Chandler’s curiosity guided her towards the kitchen in high school, following her to college where she studied both Business and Hospitality & Tourism Management.
Eating as many fresh croissants she could get her hands on, her first industry job at The Daily matched with various hospitality internships cracked open a door Chandler had been knocking on for years. Any excuse to throw a brunch together or test a new recipe out on roommates gave her the practice she needed to know something simply clicked when in flow by the stove.
Two weeks after finishing college, she hopped coasts to attend The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone where her true love and curiosity for food revealed itself.
Suddenly enveloped in a new world, everything she ever wanted to learn overwhelmingly flourished before her eyes. Rolling fresh pasta, deboning a leg of lamb, laminating croissants, forming the perfect paella socarrat, casing fresh sausage, down to cutting the perfect carrot julienne – palpable happiness surrounded her. A new language to learn, new tools to become one with, new techniques to master – home had officially been found.
After traveling around southeast Asia, California called her back to Oakland where Berkeley Bowl, the Pacific Ocean, a Mission burrito, and the most intentional farmer’s markets are just a hop, skip, jump away.
Chandler spent a few years in the catering industry, assisting with menu and event development while getting more comfortable in her new ‘cook skin’. Working the many odds and ends in the catering world, she witnessed an unfortunate glutton of food being forgotten – it was hurtful. She soon became the employee stocking up on boxes and bags, packaging food to share with houseless folks on her way to BART. Food waste was an issue she had never seen in such mass and decided to do something about it. And right on cue, Food Shift was hiring.
At Food Shift Chandler climbed the ranks to become Office & Social Enterprise Manager, establishing a food recovery system to source produce for overlooked, marginalized groups in the East Bay lacking access to fresh produce. Additionally, Chandler worked endless private chef events, farmers markets, and cooked with Elyse for years before joining Vita full time as Operations Lead.
While Chandler grew to the operations side, her toes remain dipped in the kitchen as she takes part in Vita menu planning, keeping her finger on the pulse of seasonality, and continues to hone holistic practices in her own home. Outside of the kitchen she enjoys reading novels, roller skating, exploring the many corners of the bay, rolling around with her feline companion and, well, let’s be real – eating!
The origins of our story start in New York City, and take root in Oakland, CA. After almost a decade working in the food industry our founder, Elyse was burnt out — from over-work, and from many years of late nights, drinking and unhealthy eating — an unfortunate norm in the industry. Cooking food for others was always where her heart was, but she felt like she could no longer do the unhealthy lifestyle that seemed to come along with it.
Feeling like she needed a change she moved back home to the San Francisco Bay Area, and began taking an online class through Cornell in nutrition. She began to think about food, and the role of the chef, in different terms. She began to see that chefs have a responsibility to their communities to make food that helps to heal and nourish people’s bodies, rather than to further harm them.
Elyse looked at her own diet and began to make some big changes. She began to focus on what she learned were the pillars traditional human diet — a plant-forward diet, responsibly raised proteins that are rich in omega-3s, healing bone and mineral broths, and fermented foods. After eating this way consistently she started to see an increase in energy, mental clarity and overall resiliency and stamina.
With Vita Kitchen Elyse wanted to create a company that supports both our clients as well as the team of chefs and cooks that work with us. At Vita Kitchen we aim to create a more inclusive, healthy and sustainable work environment, where our employee’s health is valued as much as our client’s. As our team grows we are always striving to create food industry jobs at a living wage, with health benefits and with a schedule that allows for vacation days and time off with family.
“Elyse and Vita Kitchen are amazing! Our whole family loves every meal, we're eating healthier than we ever have and it's been delicious the whole time. Even our 2.5yr old is trying everything and can't wait for the next week's meals. Very thankful for Elyse and her team!”
“Elyse and all at Vita Kitchen create delicious, healthy, personalized meals with great attention and love. We turned to Vita Kitchen when I was healing from surgery. I'm the cook in the family and we needed help. The delicious meals, carefully delivered each week delighted out taste buds and boosted my immune system. These meals are not only seasonal plant-based focused but are also umami packed with flavor and variety. If you are lucky enough to receive this crafted cooking, you will feel preciously cared for. In my mind, this is the most special and right choice for healthy and delicious food delivery. Thank you, Elyse and team. I will recommend you to everyone in need of amazing sustenance.”