Quenby Schuyler addresses her existence in phases. “Before my health scare” and “after a health scare of my own” are but two.
The constant during any time period she discusses remains the ethic that continues to drive her more than four years after suffering a stroke.
“Food is medicinal,” Schuyler says.
As owner of Q’s Kitchen in Geneva, Schuyler works to personify those words as a caterer and private meal prep chef for both individuals and corporate events. She pridefully uses fresh, local and home-grown ingredients she calls “good for the gut, good for the belly, good for the brain, and then also good for inflammation.”
Schuyler also aims for an exquisite meal presentation that might offer a surprise for a customer who wasn’t expecting it.
Then there’s the spiritual side, the idea of food as an ultimate unifier.
“It’s something that two people can have two completely different backgrounds and different stories, but if you get them together over a good meal, I mean, they’ll find a commonality,” Schuyler says.
And the food…oh, the food!
Known for creating clean meals with many locally sourced ingredients, delivered to you directly, and some of the most impressive and elaborate charcuterie boards you’ve ever seen, Q’s is quickly becoming a go-to caterer in the Tri-Cities for home, parties, and more.
Schuyler has discovered a growing base of supporters since opening Q’s Kitchen in summer 2018. An operation that started with one client – a person familiar with Schuyler’s “former life” as a private chef in Chicago – since has blossomed to 20 to 40 clients a week.
Collaboration looms as a major factor in the growth of the business. While the company began solely as a healthy, holistic meal prep endeavor, the advent of new customers and other Fox Valley food producers interested in working with Schuyler have helped Q’s Kitchen grow with gluten-free catering offerings, charcuterie boards and more for diners of all dietary needs.
Another catalyst for expansion: Networking through social media.
“I would say that there’s a really good niche group of businesses, that we all help each other out, and so we’ll collaborate through social media, as well, by sharing each other’s posts and recommending each other’s businesses,” Schuyler says. “If we can’t do something, we usually have somebody that can.”
It helps, Schuyler says, when local food sources share the “food is medicinal” outlook. One frequent partner, owners John and Lisa Ayres of Nomiah Meadows Farm in Franklin Grove, fits the bill.
This winter, Q’s Kitchen is set to partner with holistic nutritionist DeeDee Mehren of Feed Mind Body Soul in Geneva for a clean eating program called “30 Days to Feeling Fabulous,” scheduled for Jan. 13 to Feb. 9.
“We just try to find people that have that same kind of vision, to make the world a better place by feeding people and by giving people what they need,” Schuyler says. “It’s possible.”
Schuyler traces her appreciation for food to her upbringing on a West Chicago farm.
“My mother and grandmother had gardens and gardens and gardens, and we were never inside,” she says. “We grew up with chickens and goats, and I guess I’ve just always been inspired by nature. I’ve always been inspired by what comes out of the ground and how delicious something can be if it’s grown with intention.”
After high school, Schuyler studied English for a time at the University of Colorado-Boulder. When the pull of the Colorado outdoors – namely snowboarding and exploring adjacent mountain ranges – proved too strong, she left school and worked in the kitchen of an organic café to afford her activities.
That soon opened Schuyler’s eyes to the joys of not simply enjoying food, but preparing and cultivating it, as well. She moved to an organic farm and learned about sustainable farming, adapting that appreciation when she returned to the Midwest as a private chef for a St. Charles family in the mid-2000s.
Schuyler spent about a decade as a private chef in Chicago and the western suburbs before her aforementioned “health scare.” IN 2015, nine days after giving birth to her daughter, Schuyler, suffered a stroke caused by postpartum eclampsia, a sudden, sharp rise in blood pressure accompanied by swelling of the hands and feet.
She temporarily lost her sight, but once it was restored, Schuyler began working back to recovery. At a friend’s urging, she found an invaluable outlet at Prana Yoga in Geneva, where Schuyler encountered others focused on the same holistic health goals.
Schuyler says her stroke “changed the whole course” of this latest chapter of her existence. Her recovery got her moving – and cooking – again, a chain of events that led, as before, to a familiar discovery.
Food is medicinal.