Written by Nancy Weingartner @Food Service News
Chef Marshall O’Brien doesn’t just tell people how to eat better, he shows them with his pots and pans.
“All day meetings can be dry; (plus) it’s hard to sit all day, and one way leadership makes it enjoyable is to have Marshall come in. People love watching him cook,” says Jessica Huntington, wellness coordinator for Hennepin County Human Resources.
O’Brien makes regular appearances before Hennepin County employee groups to aid in its proactive efforts to keep its workforce healthy and informed. In addition to showing them how to cook with easily attainable ingredients, he sends them home with the recipes, Huntington says.
He’s also a regular at Sugar Lake Lodge, where he cooks and lectures at conferences for administrative professionals put on by Wright County Health and Human Services.
“He always consults with me beforehand to see who is in the audience,” says Margo Block, a case aide for the county, and then he tailors his message to fit the crowd. At their latest event, O’Brien arrived early and helped design the dinner menu. “He’s amazing to work with,” she says. “You should see this guy with a knife.”
He also does segments on Fox 9 News and writes cookbooks. O’Brien may get a lot of kudos, but he’s not a one-man show. He’s founder and CEO of The Chef Marshall O’Brien Group, which employs chefs, dietitians, researchers, writers and videographers, with a goal to “translate current best nutrition practices into foods and recipes that will produce positive nutritional results and taste great.” They even have a name for it: “Putting Delicious in Nutritious.”
He started as a one-man show, he says, going into people’s homes to teach. He was a personal chef for prominent people with beautiful kitchens “where the microwave was the most used piece of equipment.” His business model changed when he teamed up with Bob Bossman, who had a career in sales and marketing and who took over the scheduling and management so O’Brien could grow his skillset into a company and reach more people.
Clients include large corporations that want to provide employees with healthy lifestyle options, from revamping the snacks in the break room to learning how to cook at home.
A quick overview of his methods include moving thorough benefits and motivation to a process to using the right tools and training to developing support systems. It’s creating rituals and then reinforcing them. The results are fewer sick days and injuries. And cooking for yourself.