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PROFILE - MAKAROnce upon a time, there was a nice young man from New Jersey who ran nursing homes and assisted living facilities for a living. His love of cooking came from his family. Both his parents and grandparents owned restaurants. So, he tried his hand at that and owned a restaurant in Louisville, KY for a while. He moved to Beaufort in 2006 to run Bay View Manor here in town. One day, he had a thought. Was there a way to combine his love of food and restaurants with something that would suit the needs of the elderly? And thus was born Gourmet on Wheels.

Tony Mazar, founder of this wonderful idea, now rents a kitchen usually at a club that is closed on Mondays, solicits help from family and friends, and creates low calorie, low salt, and low sugar gourmet meals for mostly seniors that are delivered on Tuesdays and are ready to heat and eat. The meals are microwavable and freezable and usually are the right size for two people.

Trey Martin
Trey Martin

Tony found that his audience in the assisted living facilities had many counterparts who were still living in their houses but things like cooking nutritious meals was becoming more and more difficult. Yet nutrition is just as important for seniors as it is for young children.

Many of his customers will buy 4 or 5 meals at a time and use them all week long pretty much alleviating the necessity of both shopping and cooking for themselves.

Mrs. Lee Stevenson, 89, says, “Gourmet on Wheels is one of the best things I have ever found. I need a walker now and I really don’t like to cook so I order all my favorite things from Tony. Plus, my appetite isn’t what it used to be so sometimes there is enough left over for lunch the next day, and sometimes I just eat the whole thing.” She continues, “The food is nutritious and well balanced. You always get vegetables and fruit along with your entrée.”

Tradd Mazar
Tradd Mazar

Gourmet on Wheels is very much a family project. Tony’s mom, Delores, is “100% Italian” as he describes her and many of the dishes they offer are from the old school. Delores comes down from Charleston on Monday to cook and then delivers here in Beaufort as well as on her way home to Charleston on Tuesday. His three children, Tradd (17), Cameron (14) and Lucie (12) all help with the company as well whether it is after school washing dishes or delivering to Hilton Head during the summer. In addition, Tony’s nephew Trey “is a Charleston schooled chef who now works at Saltus as a sous chef and cooks with us on Mondays”. And not to be left out, his wife, Anna is the “admissions coordinator at NHC Bluffton Skilled Nursing Facility” and she helps by serving the leftovers to the family on a regular basis.

Andrea Smith is a 9-5 working professional and is another very satisfied customer of Gourmet on Wheels. She says, “If I had to cook for myself, it would be chicken and spinach every night. With Tony, I order a variety of different items and am constantly trying new and different foods. Today I had Rutabaga. Seriously. Totally new for me as a vegetable.” Andrea has serious food allergies and cannot tolerate high levels of sodium in her meals. “I don’t have to worry with Tony’s foods. They are always low in sodium and I simply am able to enjoy the food which I cannot do if I am eating in a restaurant.”

So, when he’s not cooking, Tony caddies (and maybe plays a little golf himself) at many of the fine clubs in our area. But food is always first on this mind. Mother’s Day is coming up. Think about what a great gift a week of meals would be for your Mom – whether she is 94 or 49. Tony has started to fill a niche in the restaurant world that needed filling. As we all age, this idea didn’t come too soon. Check out his menus at beaufortscmealdelivery.com.