All our employees come from an industry where working holidays is not only common, but expected. They've spent years sacrificing their holidays for their work. We however, never require our employees to work on a holiday. They are each individually empowered to decide whether or not they want to work on holidays. When a regular meal prep service day falls on a holiday and the chef does not want to work that holiday, they will find another time or day to accommodate you if possible. If they are unable to offer you another time or day, we will try to provide you service from another chef. If that is not possible, we will unfortunately not provide service that week and you will not be obligated to pay a holding fee for the week off since it was not your choice. If your service day falls on a holiday and you decide to take the week off service when the chef has made arrangements to accommodate you on another day, you will be required to pay a "holding fee" to supplement the chef for their lost hours.
We don’t have contracts like other meal preparation services because we don’t believe in locking clients into long term commitments or forcing them to pay for service on weeks they may not need our service.
We will happily incorporate any ingredients into the menu that our clients have on hand. We encourage them to shop at farmer’s markets, join CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), or raise their own vegetables and herbs if they have the time. Some clients like to buy proteins in bulk at shopping clubs like Costco or Sam’s Club. We do not however send shopping lists ahead of time to have the client’s do all the shopping for the week however. Our clients do not have the experience and training the chefs have to choose the highest quality ingredients or buy the correct portions. Our chefs also need to be able to make substitutions to a recipe while at the store if the store is out of an item or the quality of the ingredient does not meet our standards.
We do not offer every other week or monthly service with our chefs. Our chefs depend on us to provide them with steady hours, good pay and benefits that irregular service simply doesn't support. We do offer "as needed" service for those that would like to use our service occasionally, but we cannot guarantee availability for "as needed" service.
To legally offer pickup or delivery to our clients would require a centralized, licensed production facility, in addition to the collection and payment of sales tax to the state. Friend That Cooks does not sell food. We sell service, and all our services are provided for an hourly rate, free of sales tax, in the homes of our clients.
“No contracts” is important to what we do. We don’t want to lock anyone into service. Clients may stop at any time, though we suggest to new clients that they wait until the third or fourth week so they can see the true value of our service. The first couple weeks of service, the chef will still be getting acclimated to a client’s kitchen and grocery store, learning where things are. They will also be purchasing ingredients the client doesn’t have which won’t have to be repurchased again for weeks or months. The first two weeks, both the service fee and the grocery bill will be higher than normal. By the third or fourth week they will normalize and a client gets to see the true value of our service.
When we help families decide on how much food to make to get them through the week, we base our portion recommendations on basic, healthy adult portion sizes. For example, feeding 2 adults, a 4 year old child, and a 12 year old child for one dinner would require “3 portions”, not 4. By sticking to a standard portion size when preparing food, our chefs are better able to make the proper amount of food necessary to get a family through the week without overproducing.
Most of our clients use our service because they are busy. They aren’t able to be at their home while our chef is there. We do not need them to be present, we only require that they leave shopping money for groceries and a payment source for service. We will take care of the rest. If they prefer to have approval on the menu selections a chef is considering, they can have the chef call or text from their home after the chef gets menu ideas from their ingredients, or they can leave requests or recipes for the chef. Our chefs do a great job of learning the tastes of each family, and eventually families prefer to not have to worry about approving dishes each week, though that is up to the individual preferences of each family.
Basic kitchen equipment that most families have is enough for us to provide service. If there is anything basic you are missing, the chef will let you know during their visit so you can buy it. Chefs prefer to bring their own knives, or specialty equipment when needed. Most families do need to purchase storage containers. We strongly suggest buying Pyrex and we will provide you with a link in the “Welcome” email when send if you decide to use our service.
All our services are provided in the homes of our clients, though in the case of some parties we are able to cook in another fully supplied kitchen available to us the day of the party, and the day before in the case of larger events. Examples would include a clubhouse or church kitchen.
Our chefs mainly use basic kitchen equipment that most families already have. If they need specialty equipment rarely used, they will bring it or suggest buying it if the items its needed for are requested regularly. During the initial consultation, your chef will ask to look through your kitchen to locate where you keep your equipment. They have a detailed list of items that are not required for service, we just want to see where they are stored if you have them. If there are basic items you don’t have on hand, the chef will let you know what items you need to purchase.
We do not offer samples prior to service. Since we do not require contracts, any client who is not satisfied with service may request a change of chefs or may cancel service with no charge. We do offer private dinners in the homes of our clients, and anyone insistent on testing a chef prior to using our service is welcome to book a dinner party through us with that chef.
While we can count calories and other nutritional information, we find that its rarely necessary when we follow standard, healthy portion sizes, and cook from scratch. Most prepared foods and restaurant dishes are so far over daily recommendations on sugar, sodium, fat and preservatives that basic, scratch prepared foods in healthy portion sizes brings our food within most restrictions and makes counting nutritional information redundant.
To keep your spot in the chef’s schedule and supplement the chef for lost hours, a holding fee is charged when a weekly meal prep client goes on vacation.
For catering, our clients pay an hourly rate for service, provide shopping money for groceries, and also provide any supplies necessary for their party. Unlike full service caterers, we do not have service staff who set up tables, serve meals, make drinks, decorate or set up equipment. We are an hourly labor service that does the menu planning, shopping, cooking and cleanup only. Our chefs will provide a list of platters, food warmers or serving utensils you’ll need, but it is up to our clients to provide those, or rent them to be made available. If table service is required for a party, our clients are responsible for making those arrangements also. Some larger parties may require two chefs for food preparation. In those cases, we charge our hourly rate for each chef’s time.
We have done parties as large as 100 people in larger kitchens with plenty of storage. This usually requires the client buying or renting food serving equipment as we provide only the chef, not the equipment. They can also have the chef rent or buy serving equipment. The chef’s time is charged at our prime rate and clients must provide shopping money to the chef up front. Our chefs have varying level of experience with catering. Some may not be comfortable with a 100 person party, but perfectly comfortable with 20-30 people. Any of our chefs can do parties up to 20 persons.
On our first visit, we can use whatever storage containers our clients have available. We do prefer that they purchase standard size reusable containers for ongoing service though. Basic, plastic containers can be purchased by the chef at the grocery store, but we have found our clients prefer to use glass Pyrex containers because they can go straight from the refrigerator, to the microwave or oven, to the dishwasher. They last longer than plastic containers and they are less likely to get lost. We will provide you with a link to the exact containers we prefer in your “Welcome” email when you have decided to begin service. We also encourage you to price shop from other sources as sales on these containers are frequent.
Meal kit delivery services and meal delivery services don’t have as much control over the quality of their ingredients as we do. They buy food by the case and have to use all the food in that case. We buy from grocery stores where we can pick the best individual ingredient in the case. Meal kits recipes have to be simple enough for inexperienced home cooks to prepare while our highly trained chefs can prepare complex recipes that home cooks simply can’t. Freshness is the most important reason our food is better. The process of receiving ingredients into a factory, processing them and shipping them can add days, or even weeks onto the age of the ingredients you receive, leaving you with food that has a very limited shelf life, and if you read their reviews are often ruined before you get them. Their services also incur a lot of waste not necessary with our service.