It should come as no surprise when I say that do love to cook. Truly. Most days, the very first thing I think about when I wake up is, “what do I want to make today?” Having easy access to good ingredients close to home makes fulfilling all my culinary dreams a lot easier, but I admit there are the occasional days when even I cannot think about what to cook, or I don’t feel like going to the grocery store. When I heard about a revolutionary new company in Ottawa called Chefx, I got really excited as it addresses a number of different cooking dilemmas.
What is Chefx? It’s a gourmet delivery service in the finest concierge tradition . Owner Jeff Heaton approached some of Ottawa’s top chefs and PAYS them to create make-at-home recipes that are unique, delicious and not ridiculously difficult. Jeff prints out the ingredients (including pictures) and step-by-step instructions for two of the recipes in full colour, then slides them into spillproof page protectors (so you can collect them in a binder for future use).
After that, the really magical part happens: Jeff sources, portions and packages up all the fresh ingredients needed to make the two dishes. Protein, vegetables, fruit, seasonings – as much of it locally sourced as possible. He thinks of literally everything you require (with the exception of common household staples like salt, pepper and oil). The recipes and fixings are packaged in coolers which Jeff delivers to your doorstep. What could be simpler?
I couldn’t say yes fast enough when Jeff asked me to give Chefx a try. This week, the recipes included a Slow-Roasted Coho Salmon with Beet, Apple and Arugula Salad and Grapefruit-Vanilla Vinaigrette, from Chris Deraiche at the Wellington Gastropub along with a Roasted Squash Soup with Chipotle and Blue Cheese (and a side salad), from the Urban Element. The short story: both dishes were easy to make and super tasty. I felt like I had two days off in the kitchen, not having to think about or shop for two meals, both of which took about 45 minutes to prepare. It occurred to me that Chefx would make a great ‘date night’ ritual for busy people who enjoy cooking together. As the cook in my house, it was like having a shopper and sous-chef doing all the dirty work so I could take on the glamorous task of assembling and plating the meal.
While there are similar services operating in other parts of the world, Jeff says that his biggest inspiration for launching the service came when he was working in Geneva for the Canadian Foreign Service. Days were long and there were no grocery stores open in the evenings or on Sundays, so he ate a lot of expensive restaurant meals instead of cooking at home.
With a subscription base that is growing every week and at least 10 local chefs enthusiastically on board, Jeff is optimistic that he’ll find lots of support for Chefx. At present, Chefx boxes can be ordered for 2 meals per week, for 2, 4 or 6 people; Jeff says that a 3 meal per week option will be available soon. It’s easy to subscribe and you can pause or cancel at any time. Visit chefx.ca for all the delicious details!