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Utah businesses put local spin on meal delivery trend

Published September 15, 2016 10:50 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

People who aren't mechanics pay someone to change the car oil. Those who hate to clean hire a housekeeper. And those who don't like to cook — or don't have the time or energy — can subscribe to one of a growing number of meal delivery services.

"If you don't like to cook, or it brings you stress, why would you?" asked chef Page Ane Viehweg, owner of Wasatch Fresh, a 3-month-old Utah business that delivers cooked meals in reheatable and recyclable containers to customers in the Salt Lake Valley.

Wasatch Fresh and Ultimate Food Essentials, also in Salt Lake City, are two of many businesses across the country capitalizing on the "what's-for-dinner" dilemma that families, working professionals, singles and the elderly face each day.



"I hear from a lot of customers that weekdays between 4 and 6 p.m. is the worst time for them," said Viehweg, a Salt Lake City resident who attended culinary school in Italy. "But that's the time when I really excel."

Wasatch Fresh dinners rotate daily among poultry, fish, red meat and vegetarian options. Last week, for example, customers received white bean and turkey chili with cornbread and a salad on Monday; brined pork chops with apricot chutney, butternut squash and green beans on Tuesday; and a vegetarian farro and pea salad and a curried ginger carrot soup on Wednesday.

Customers are able to pick the days they want to receive meals — with a minimum of three — and the number of meals they want each day. Viehweg and her employees deliver the cooked dinners daily between 4 and 6 p.m. All customers have to do is reheat before eating. Meals cost $12 each and include delivery, tip and a cooler that sits on your porch to keep them cold until you get home.

Viehweg, who uses seasonal ingredients when she can, has been a personal chef for many years, and after some encouragement and financial backing from her neighbors, decided to launch Wasatch Fresh. "It's exactly what I love to do," she said. "Making dinner for other people."

Ultimate Food Essentials also delivers meals already cooked to customers. It is a much larger operation, delivering about 600 meals a week. The company offers meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner and has focused menus for different diets, including a high-protein paleo, weight loss, maintenance and "macro-flex" options. Prices range from $10 to $13 a meal, said owner Giovanni Bouderbala, who started Ultimate Food Essentials in 2009 while still the chef at One World Cafe.

"Our customers are professionals and hard-working people who don't have much time to cook for themselves, but have made the choice to eat healthy," said Bouderbala. "Our customers include lawyers, doctors, car salesmen, athletes, people from all walks of life."

The Utah companies are slightly different from their national counterparts like Blue Apron and HelloFresh, which deliver a weekly box of ingredients with recipes that customers follow and cook. (See www.sltrib.com/entertainment/3606934-155/meals-in-a-box-are-they and www.sltrib.com/entertainment/3597050-155/review-meal-kit-price-and-quality-can for more on these services.)

While having someone prepare dinner may seem like an extravagance reserved for celebrities or the super-rich, customers say the service helps them eat healthier, keeps them from spending money at restaurants and fast-food outlets, cuts down on trips to the grocery store and provides more time to relax.

Jim Dreyfous has been using the Wasatch Fresh meal delivery service for about a month, ordering meals for himself, his 92-year-old mother and his son.

"I get meals three days a week, but I'm thinking of going to four," he said.

"Easy and affordable," the biggest plus is the quality of the food, said Dreyfous, noting that Viehweg uses ingredients and techniques beyond the range of the average cook. "I can't make the food as well as Page," he said. "She's a true chef."

Jamie Nagle and her husband are working professionals and empty-nesters who also enjoy getting the Wasatch Fresh meals three nights a week.

"I love food and love to cook, but we are both pretty busy," she said. Eliminating the planning, cooking and cleaning on busy days "has been a way for us to add a lot more quality time to our lives."

kathys@sltrib.com

 

 

 

 

 

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