Sometimes you just have to trust that whatever is happening in life will lead you where you need to go. So was the case for Julia Nahmias, who grew up loving cooking and playing music. She was focused on music career-wise when she learned she had cancer as a young adult. As to be expected, that diagnosis completely upended her life and when Nahmias came out on the other side, she decided that cooking was how she wanted to spend her time.
“Food was a hobby that was creeping its way to the forefront,” said Nahmias, who lives in Spring Hill. “When I was diagnosed with leukemia, it launched my life in a different direction.”
The new direction? Her business, Food for the Band, which includes a fresh shares program (think of it liked a cooked CSA), personal chef services and catering for small events. The name is a nod to her former life as a keyboardist when she would bake treats and snacks for her bandmates to nosh on during practice.
Though Nahmias isn’t focused on music as a career any longer, she still draws lots of inspiration from whatever she’s listening to while she cooks. Her other focus is on fresh, local ingredients and cooking for health. Her cancer diagnosis got her to really think about food as more than just something that tastes good and she has focused a lot on learning how to accommodate various food allergies and preferences in her dishes.
“I like to make menus that are inclusive,” Nahmias said. She bills her dishes as “fine dining comfort food” that make people feel “warm, happy and close to their families.”
Nahmias’ own family had (and still has) a big influence on her. Her parents ran a catering business when she was younger and she learned a lot about baking for large groups while working with them. Today, her sister is her Web designer, photographer and “partner in crime.”
Nahmias grew up in the “snow globe” of Burlington, Vermont, and made her way to Boston for the first time about a decade ago. She then took off for the Pacific Northwest, but her cancer diagnosis forced her to move back home. After she recovered, she came back to Boston.
“I knew Boston like the back of my hand,” Nahmias said. At the time, she was nannying for a family who she saw was in need of help in the kitchen, so she stepped in to provide assistance. “When the family needed food help, it was a sign. It’s all been a journey that I’ve been taking signs as I go.”
When the family sent their child to private school this year, Nahmias knew it was time for her to take a leap and start her own food business. She launched Food for the Band in September, though she’s been cooking for a lot longer than that. Nahmias is a Certified Personal Chef, is ServSafe/Food Allergen Certified and gained acceptance to the prestigious ACE program at the Culinary Institute of America.
Right now, Nahmias posts the Food for the Band fresh shares menu online on Sundays. She cooks the meals on Tuesdays and Thursdays and customers can select what they want a la carte. Entrees are $15, sides are $10 and desserts are $5. Orders must total $125, but what and how much each customer gets is completely up to them.
“Breaking it down gives people flexibility,” Nahmias said. And it seems like she’s picked the perfect place to launch her business, with Somerville’s burgeoning food scene and the city’s focus on health.
“It’s amazing. It’s very supportive. No one in Somerville is normal,” Nahmias said happily of living here. “I’m very inspired by everything cropping up in town. I’m really proud of Somerville. It just affirms that I’m in the right place.”
All images courtesy of Food for the Band.