Imagine being able to order restaurant quality meals prepared by some of Cleveland’s top chefs and have them delivered to your door at fast-casual prices. That’s the objective behind Mod Meals
, a tech-based solution to that ever-present problem of what to do about dinner.
What Mod Meals is not is a delivery service that simply shuttles hot meals between restaurants and consumers. This app-based business approaches the problem in a whole new fashion by recruiting local chefs to prepare and chill meals, which are picked up in the morning, kept cold at various distribution points, and later delivered to customers at a time of their choosing.
“I think we’ve all had terrible experiences with take-out and delivery because restaurants design their recipes and prepare their food for people to eat in the restaurant,” explains Mod Meal CEO Bruce Teicher. “And then that food is just put into a tray and sent off.”
Hot food continues to cook and steam en route, leaving meats and fish overcooked, noodles mushy and fried foods anything but crunchy. Mod Meals chefs like Eric Williams (Momocho, El Carnicero), Karen Small (Flying Fig), Brian Okin (Cork & Cleaver, Graffiti), and Ben Bebenroth (Spice), who also happens to serve as Mod Meals’ Chief Culinary Officer, will design their dishes from the ground up for delivery and reheating.
“We’ll prepare things specifically with the intention of reheating like braised pot roast with carrots, or pappardelle with braised oxtails,” says Bebenroth. Along with the meals come detailed instructions for treating heat-sensitive ingredients. “This is not simply ‘pop it in the oven for 30 minutes.’”
Chilled food is stable food, meaning the dishes can be enjoyed immediately, later that evening, or even the following day.
When the service launches in early November, customers who download the app (or log in through a computer) will see a picture-based menu that changes by the day. To start there will be at least three meals (a "meal" is an entree with sides), at least two kids’ meals, additional sides, desserts, and beverages (including beer and wine). Each dish will include a description, list of ingredients, nutritional info, and known allergens. Once everything is added to the shopping cart you simply pick a window for evening delivery. A meal might consist of poblano chile rellenos with salsa chiltomate and black beans courtesy of chef Williams.
Mod Meals is able to offer chef-prepared foods at fast-casual prices (approximately $10 to $14 per meal plus $2.95 delivery charge per order) because there is less restaurant overhead, zero waste, and bulk pricing. As volume builds and the delivery zones expand, those prices can go even lower, says Teicher.
The service will roll out first in three zones: downtown/central, University Circle, and the eastern suburbs in hopes of capturing those at home, those who are going home, and those who are stuck at work. Teicher envisions new areas of service coming online in quick succession. Also, additional chefs will be added to the lineup as well.
“We think a great bulk of people have a big problem, which is they don’t have the time to cook,” says Teicher. “Our idea is to let people get the best food in town, the healthiest food in town, and the most local and freshest food in town on demand.”