I have been a fan of a few ready-to-cook food delivery services over the past year or so, but I have not come across one like Meisterdish. Similar to other businesses, boxes from Meisterdish arrived at my door with everything I needed to make a meal for two or three. Unlike other companies, however, my Meisterdish ingredients came pre-chopped and ready to be turned into a superb dish in a very short amount of time. Meisterdish has their small prep kitchen on East 81st with members of their team ready to jump on their bikes to deliver dinners to New Yorkers’ doorsteps at any hour. There is no need to subscribe: customers can order one meal at a time, on the day they would like to cook it.
The menu changes on a regular basis. I decided to try Meisterdish shortly after the company’s “soft launch” in late 2015 and chose to cook Cavatelli Arabbiata and a Cherry, Kale, and Walnut salad. I was able to make this light, fresh pasta dish and robust salad in under fifteen minutes that easily fed my husband, myself, and Olivia from the Manhattan Sideways team.
For the time being, Meisterdish was focusing on delivery to the Upper East Side, but that the plan was to shortly expand services to the rest of Manhattan. There was a deliberate reason for starting out on the Upper East Side: the area is one of the most highly concentrated in terms of residences, but also borders corporate areas in the high 50s. When I visited the creative team at the prep kitchen, I learned an interesting statistic – eighty percent of people watch cooking shows, but a far smaller percentage actually cook. “We’re bringing cooking back,” a member of the team said with a smile.
I was introduced to the executive chef, Johannes Hennche. He comes from an impressive culinary background, having worked at Daniel and Eleven Madison Park in New York, and a host of European restaurants prior to that. I was thrilled to observe as he prepared the ingredients for that evening’s meals and was able to witness how little waste was created. I even walked away with a few tips of my own, since the seasoned chef knew exactly how to get the most out of a vegetable while cutting it. The team makes every effort to conserve waste, including the cartons, which are made from recycled paper.
Hannes spoke with me about how he developed the menu, a scientifically specific process. He clearly loves the challenge of coming up with a list of items each week that can be prepared in less than the fifteen minute time frame allotted. There are always six dishes on the menu, including at least one vegetarian meal, that change with the seasons. “I wanted to step out of the classic kitchen,” Hannes explained. Next on his to-do list is adding more Asian inspired dishes to the menu.
The last person that I spoke to was Hannah de Boer, the founder of Meisterdish. Originally from Australia, she began her career working in the world of fashion and fragrance marketing and spent time living in France and South Korea. She moved to New York to finish a marketing degree at Parsons School of Design in 2007. Despite having a great love of cooking, she discovered that after living in the city for a few years and becoming a mom, she was cooking less and less. She had no time to make a full meal at home, and found herself snacking on the wrong foods and frequently eating out. She decided to be the solution to her own problem by creating a meal delivery system that was “simple, fast, healthy and convenient.” The name “Meisterdish” plays on the Germanic word “Meister,” meaning a skilled craftsman. The name references the fact that Meisterdish attempts to help anyone master a gourmet dinner at home. Hannah gushed about the great team that she works with, including the “mastermind designer,” the creative lead, and (most importantly) the kitchen personnel. Hannah’s family has already benefitted, since they are now able to cook almost every evening. “It’s exactly feeding the need I have,” Hannah said. “We’re the first entirely on-demand meal box delivery service.”