By Elena Kadvany
Meal delivery startup ?relaunches? with new concept, Bay Area chefUploaded: Oct 9, 2014
Three years ago, Gobble was an online meal delivery company born out of a Stanford University graduate's observation (and personal experience) that many people crave healthy, home-cooked meals, but are simply too busy to make them themselves. Founder Ooshma Garg recruited local chefs who worked part-time, creating dishes in commercial kitchens and then delivering them to hubs where drivers would drop them off to customers. (Read this Palo Alto Weekly story to get more on Gobble's genesis story.)
Fast forward to today, and the company has pivoted. The Gobble product is now a one-pan dinner kit, designed to be delicious, gourmet, healthful, simple ? and ready to be fully cooked by anyone in 10 minutes. Gobble's tagline is that it's your very own sous chef.
And the head sous chef at Gobble, ironically, is Thomas Ricci, a Bay Area chef whose resume includes San Francisco restaurants like Michelin-starred Michael Mina, Aqua (now closed) and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. At age 26 he won the San Francisco Chronice's Rising Star award for his Mediterranean fine-dining restaurant, Lapis, which he opened in 2000 on Pier 33 in San Francisco. He was most recently chef de cuisine at LB Steak's Santana Row location.
When Ricci came on board a few months ago, Gobble was still doing the meal delivery concept. He said he and Garg had an "epiphany": What if they gave people not just food to eat, but the experience that goes along with creating it?
So Gobble prepares and cleans the locally sourced vegetables, marinates the meat (or tofu) and provides the instructions for the rest, putting it all together in a way that makes cooking it in one pan completely possible. Each kit costs $11.95 per person; the price gets bumped if you want to adjust the servings for more people.
The menu rotates. This week, they're offering cashew chicken with vegetables and brown rice; barbecue ribs with macaroni salad and green beans; sweet potato enchiladas with Spanish rice; cheese tortellini with sundried tomato pesto sauce; and others.
Ricci said they sit down every week to brainstorm new dishes, but always try to do at least one chicken, seafood and meat dish plus three vegetarian options. It's also all driven by the season and what ingredients are available locally (they try to get everything from within 200 miles). Any customer can make requests or change their orders based on allergies, likes, dislikes.
With a culinary degree from The Culinary Institute of America in New York and 20 years of cooking experience, much in upscale restaurants, Ricci said he's just been "tweaking up" menu items that Gobble learned were popular through business the past few years.
Garg refers to this as "the marriage of food and technology."
"With (Ricci's) experience and intuition in cooking, he's able to take our years of data behind what meals are attractive, how they taste versus other meals ? and turn that into a data-driven and educated menu of only six items that we'll ultimately serve in 10 states and to millions and millions of people," Garg said.
Right now, they're delivering in California and Nevada but have plans to expand within a month to Washington and Oregon (and clearly, beyond).