Putting On My Chef's Hat: Preparing a Ready-to-Cook, Gourmet Meal at Home
I love to cook, but often find myself stuck in a bit of a recipe rut where I keep recycling the same dozen or so dishes (yawn!). I want to branch out, but I need inspiration — and good instructions.
Enter Chefx, a food service offering ready-to-cook meals with gourmet recipes from local chefs. This innovative company features seasonally inspired recipes — which change every week — from Ottawa chefs. Customers check its website and simply choose what appeals. Then, Chefx sources all locally available ingredients from its partner farmers and producers, portions everything out in the exact quantities you need (that’s right — no measuring required!) and delivers it all to your door.
It was fun to find a big, insulated cooler bag on my doorstep — brimming with all the ingredients I’d need to create a gourmet meal. The featured dish I prepared was “Barley Risotto-Stuffed Squash with Honey-Glazed Beets” based on Chef Steve Mitton’s recipe (interestingly enough, Chef Mitton, the owner and chef at Murray Street restaurant, is known for his heavier, meat-based dishes, yet this is a vegetarian recipe).
Admittedly, this is not something I would typically elect to make, which meant I was (happily) pushed to expand my horizons. While I love cooking with squash, I had never cooked barley risotto and, though I enjoy beets, they are also rare on our table. The night I cooked my meal from Chefx, my husband and I invited some friends over for dinner — being careful to choose a pair known for their sense of culinary adventure.
While I laboured over the meal a bit longer than I would have, had I been preparing an old stand-by, it was well worth the effort. The recipe — complete with detailed instructions and photos of every step — came together perfectly, and won rave reviews around the dining table. Now I know that for about $60, I can have all the elements of a restaurant-calibre meal for four delivered to my door (and I can still take credit for the great-tasting food!).