Jaco Smith plans to make meal kits indefinitely into the future in order to boost revenue.
With capacity restrictions still in place, chefs have had to get creative in coming up with ways to make some extra revenue. Many have turned to family-sized meal kits as a way of creating something that’s cost effective for both the restaurant and consumer alike—it’s a win-win, says Jaco Smith, executive chef at LeCHON in Portland, Oregon.
“The reason that meal kits have been so effective is because it’s a great way for a family to support the restaurant industry and get something unique that they’ll enjoy eating,” Smith says. “And because chefs and restaurants still have buying power, there’s no way that consumers could buy all of the ingredients and cook the same thing for the price they’ll pay a chef to do it for them.”
But those attempting a meal kit program for the first time might notice a challenge: Because meal kits have become so popular, there is some saturation in the market. That means that creating something new and unique is what is going to get customers to try your family-style meals, Smith says.
“I would tell chefs to have fun with meal kits if they’re going to sell them,” Chef Smith says. “Think outside the box, and use it as an opportunity to really tap into some recipes maybe you haven’t tried in a while, something from your past from a cuisine you know really well that will be new for people in your region.”
For example, Chef Smith is from South Africa and figured not many people in his adopted home state of Oregon would be familiar with South African flavors. He began using Smithfield Culinary pork products and marinating them in unique South African sauces and selling kebabs and different meat cuts his customers may not have tried before. He found the reaction was overwhelmingly positive and began experimenting with other creative recipes, including a Peruvian Coconut Curry, made with Smithfield Smoke’NFast’s Fully-Cooked Pork Wild Wings.
“People have gone crazy for these takeout boxes,” Smith says. “You can really personalize it, too, by stamping your logo on the packaging or throwing laminated cooking instructions inside the bag. Tie a bow around it—make it unique, and people will want to try the next one.”
In order to make the family meal kits not just unique, but also profitable, Chef Smith specifically recommends using Smithfield Culinary’s line of fully-cooked products. For one, they create a nice margin because there is less labor involved. Secondly, Smithfield Culinary’s fully-cooked meats present fewer food safety challenges, which is crucial when you’re sending food home with families, especially if the food will need to be reheated. Finally, Smith uses Smithfield Culinary’s products because of the quality and consistency.
“Every time you order Smithfield, you know what to expect,” Smith says. “I can sit at my house and write out a menu thinking of Smithfield products, and I know exactly what that meat will look like and taste like when it arrives at my kitchen.”
To help strengthen your meal-kit game, visit smithfieldculinary.com.