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Meet Chef Fletcher Starkey

fletcher.jpg.scaled1000 Meet Chef Fletcher Starkey

Chef Starkey may have only joined Munchery in February but he’s already made his mark on your meals with artfully presented and full-flavored dishes such as Rum and Pepper Tilapia, Chipotle-Honey Barbecue Pork, and Pollo Cubano with seriously tangy mint spiked slaw. Trust us. Try this slaw!

pollocubano.jpeg.scaled500 Meet Chef Fletcher Starkey

Bi-Coastal Cooking Adventures
Fletcher began his career at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY and externed on the beautiful Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vinyard before making his way across the country to California. Prior to becoming a West Coast fixture he used to spend a lot of time (willingly we might add) harvesting produce from his family’s organic vegetable garden in Vermont. Fletcher recalls that the peas, corn, and asparagus used to create weekly epic meals, were some of the most flavorful he’s ever had.

fletcher collage.jpg.scaled1000 Meet Chef Fletcher Starkey

Digging in the Dirt
This love of digging in the dirt of course translates well to Chef Starkey’s farmers market trips and he’s looking forward to getting his hands on piles of bright red strawberries and bunches of vibrant asparagus in the coming days. He’d also like to encourage you to not be afraid of putting these two seemingly very different foods together. With a little help from a drizzle or two of aged balsamic they’ll get along just fine.

How About You Grate This For Me?
Fletcher valued his time training at CIA and keeps his copy of New Professional Chef close at hand in the kitchen. The recipes always yield food that is absolutely flawless — even if he does have to grate cheese. A task which earns the badge of being his least favorite cooking related activity.

You can order Fletcher’s meals online each week and check in on his internet adventures via Facebook and his website ElevateCuisine.com.

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Meet Chef Nicole Gimmillaro

nicole.jpeg.scaled1000 Meet Chef Nicole Gimmillaro

Nicole Gimmillaro is one of our original Munchery chefs and her outstanding number of 5-star reviews is a testament to her strong culinary background. Nicole attended the Natural Chef Program at Bauman College in Berkeley, California where her class and kitchen work were focused on nutrition as well as the use of seasonal, organic, and unrefined whole foods. Her ability to create healthy, well-balanced meals that leave you feeling fully satisfied is why so many customers come back again and again to order her amazing pork tenderloin dishes, inventive salads, and even comfort food classics like pot pie, and my personal favorite Moussaka. Hey Nicole! Can we talk about getting that back in the rotation again pretty please?

nicole food.jpeg.scaled500 Meet Chef Nicole Gimmillaro

Sunday Sauce
Chef Gimmillaro’s passion for the kitchen was a shared family trait and she has great memories of bubbling stock pots full of homemade tomato sauce, skillet fried meatballs, and ropes of spicy Italian sausage roasting away throughout long Sunday afternoons during her childhood.

Kicking It With Quinoa
Even though her formative years included a large number of great Italian meats, Nicole counts Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone as her go-to cookbook of choice. Don’t worry meat lovers! There are plenty of proteins that make prominent appearances in Nicole’s meals but you should probably know that her creative use of quinoa on more than one occasion has me personally buying the tasty grain in bulk now.

Nicole Collage.jpg.scaled500 Meet Chef Nicole Gimmillaro

What’s In Nicole’s Market Basket?
Speaking of shopping, as spring approaches Chef Gimmillaro is just itching to get her hands on fava beans, English peas, and rhubarb from her favorite farmers market. As consumers of her delicious meals we’ll have to wait on pins and needles to see what fantastic mains and sides she’ll conjure up with this trio of products.

You can order Nicole’s meals online each week and check in on her online adventures at her Facebook page Go Picnic Marin.

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Meet Chef Ben Lillywhite

ben.jpg.scaled1000 Meet Chef Ben Lillywhite

Virginia native Chef Ben Lillywhite joined Munchery last January and has already churned out a number of southern inspired dishes including finger licking barbecue pork spare ribs, sausage gumbo, and he even baked you all pecan pie! Obviously we’re not letting this diversely talented guy out of our sights and neither should you.

gumbo.jpeg.scaled1000 Meet Chef Ben Lillywhite

Always in the Kitchen
Chef Lillywhite claims to not remember a time when he wasn’t cooking, but one of his most vivid kitchen memories involves watching his beloved grandmother making peasant bread. But while Ben definitely inherited the baking gene from this lovely lady his true passion involves grilling. Don’t take our word for it though. Just check out some of the grill marks on a number of his featured meals.

Hot Sauce Confessions
Of course, like the rest of us this chef has been known to occasionally indulge in so-called junk food as well. Ben confessed that back in the day his go-to high school cafeteria meal was a slice of pepperoni pizza with a few shakes of Texas Pete Hot Sauce. 

ben blog image.jpg.scaled500 Meet Chef Ben Lillywhite

Refrigerator Redemption 
Don’t worry though, when we inquired (perhaps a bit hesitantly) about the current contents of his refrigerator he made up for his past transgressions with a redeeming array of labne, smoked salmon, watermelon radishes, arugula, and beer. Sounds like a perfectly well-rounded fridge to me. 

You can order Ben’s meals on Munchery and follow his adventures online at his blog. Be sure to stay tuned next week for a very special St. Patrick’s Day themed dinner option from Chef Lillywhite. There may or may not be Guinness involved…

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Breaking the Tipping Taboo

Tipping has always been optional at Munchery. However, for many of our customers, it’s something they just want to do, as it’s customary to tip for food deliveries.  It’s awesome that they want to give a tip, but even then there are many nuances about tipping to deal with and we want you, our customers, to have an exceptional experience without any unnecessary awkwardness.

www.cute factor.jpeg.scaled500 Breaking the Tipping Taboo

How much of a tip is enough?
The first two questions many people have are: “How much should I tip? Is it like tipping 15% at a restaurant?”

Other questions follow:
1.  What if I don’t have any cash on hand? Remember that embarrassing feeling of having to scramble to find some money while the driver waits at your door (perhaps quietly hoping you will find some?) Or how about having to apologize to the driver because “I’m sorry, that’s all I can find”?
2. What if you simply don’t want to pay any extra?
3. How much do I tip to get me past the “cheapskate” bar?

Many people conclude — “I have no idea, but I hope a couple bucks will do.”

Admittedly, the whole tipping experience is a lot trickier than it has to be!  

Do the drivers make enough?
Many of our customers have the well-being of our drivers in mind. They may have read horror stories about how drivers (and food service staff in general) rely solely on tips as wages. At Munchery, our drivers make a fair wage, which is contributed to by the modest delivery fee we charge as well as any additional tips they receive.

Tipping via credit cards
Starting a few months ago, customers were able to optionally extend a tip using their credit cards when placing an order. This created some new situations that needed to be addressed. First, customers wondered if our drivers knew how much of a tip they had already received, would that in any way change the level of service?  Second, when the driver arrived, the customer who had already tipped online often felt compelled to tell the driver that they had already placed a tip. Blurting out that fact was also awkward.

We want every customer to be equally treated, with the highest possible quality of service.

To ensure this is the case, we instituted a few key policies:

1. We are blind to any online tipping
Our drivers do not know whether, or how much, a customer may have tipped on a specific order. We purposely hide that information from the backend tools we use.  No one sees it, not even the co-founders!  Tip information is only made accessible when resolving specific customer support situations.

2. Every customer receives the best possible service
When showing up at your door, our drivers understand that you may have already tipped them online and thus never expect any tip in cash. This way you as a customer gain the peace of mind that you will be treated equally as well as any other customer, and that our drivers do not have any intention to solicit tips from you.

3. Delivery performance tracking
In addition to sending you an SMS text message a few minutes before arrival, our drivers digitally record the exact time of the delivery. We track delivery performance in this manner and manage our staff using this data along with customer feedback.

Generous customers who tip in cash!
We do happen to have a few very generous customers who tip by cash for each delivery. They have their own philosophies on tipping and our drivers are very grateful, of course. That said, we would like to point out that our drivers’ delivery routes are pre-determined to follow the best path that will ensure that ALL deliveries are completed as efficiently as possible. Thus, we recommend that if you would like to extend a tip to reward our drivers for continually doing great work, we encourage you to do so directly online when you place the order. No need to scramble for cash upon delivery.

We understand that with the above policies, we risk the chance that our customers will tip less. We know this breaks Econ-101 principles, but to us it’s not always about the bottom line. It’s about the awesome experience we want every Munchery customer to have.

We sincerely hope you continue to reward our drivers for a job well done. Our drivers still ultimately receive all of your generous tips, but only in aggregate form. With this setup, we allow you to tip when you desire and are able to, and not tip when you aren’t.  We never forget our mission — democratizing the personal chef experience.  And so, every customer is treated as the best customer, regardless of tipping.

Many thanks to Conrad Chu, Wyatt Wartels, and Erin Nichols for contributing. 

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Meet Chef Melissa Furano

melissa.jpg.scaled1000 Meet Chef Melissa Furano

Bay Area native Melissa Furano has been cooking fantastic meals for Munchery since last July. Perhaps you remember her via a dish of Moroccan spiced chicken, ricotta gnocchi, or roasted corn soup? This chef takes pride in her work and only prepares a set number of meals each day to ensure that food is made thoughtfully, and in small batches. It’s that mission to quality that had made her a great addition to the Munchery team. 

Learning To Cook
Melissa credits her mother for cultivating her love of food but mom’s kitchen tutorials didn’t include baking so Melissa, ever the go getter, taught herself how to create sweet treats in her trusty Easy-Bake Oven. 

What’s Hiding in Melissa’s Fridge?
We put Chef Furano in the hot seat last week and urged her tell us a little more about her inner foodie. We began by asking her to divulge the contents of her refrigerator which ended up being a pretty impressive list including: multiple cheeses like gruyere, parmesan, mascarpone, and Laughing Cow for snacking. Hummus also made an appearance along with spinach, lots of salad dressings and condiments, salami, edamame, Meyer lemons, herbs from her garden, and a whole host of miscellaneous items. Then Melissa alluded to her freezer being story worthy all on its own. Hmm…what could be hiding in this chef’s icebox? We promise to get to the bottom of that tale next time.

melissa blog image.jpg.scaled1000 Meet Chef Melissa Furano

Cookbook Keepers
When asked if she had a favorite cookbook, Melissa admitted that she really only used them for inspiration rather than the actual recipes but she does keep Martha Stewart’s Cupcake book on hand for creating birthday treats and admitted that it was the title in her library with the most kitchen related flour and oil smudges. Whereas her most treasured cookbook is a signed copy of The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller. Furano also stated that eating at Keller’s famed restaurant was one of the best experiences of her life.

For Your Market Basket
Finally, we asked Melissa what ingredients she most liked to shop for at local farmers markets and berries, eggs, stone fruit, and heirloom tomatoes made the top of her list. Looks like we have a good jumping off point for a Saturday morning trip to the Ferry Building!

You can order Melissa’s meals on Munchery and follow her adventures online at Twitter, Facebook, and Yelp.

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Munchery for Moms and Dads

empty fridge.jpg.scaled500 Munchery for Moms and Dads

Time. No one can seem to find enough of it today and that’s especially true for busy parents. The alarm goes off way too early, your feet hit the floor and your hectic day begins. You make breakfast, you find lost homework, feed the dog, corral everyone into the car and off to school, and then frantically try to get to work before your first meeting.

Meanwhile, your refrigerator back home sits cold and quite empty because you enjoyed a few precious hours of family time together on Sunday afternoon instead of slogging through the weekend grocery store crowd. Looks like you’re all sitting down with a meal of cold cereal again tonight…

Don’t you wish there was a magical being you could call upon to do your mealtime bidding like in one of your child’s bedtime stories? They could go to the farmers market, pick out the best vegetables, and carefully prepare dinner from select local and organic ingredients. What if we’ve made your wish come true?

munchery mosaic1.jpg.scaled10001 Munchery for Moms and Dads

That’s right, Munchery’s team of experienced personal chefs actually do all of the above and more. We get it. Many of us are parents too and we make homemade food you can feel good about serving to your family. In addition, our menu constantly changes. Every week there are new dishes for you to choose from, all very reasonably priced between $12 – $14.

Our stellar service also allows you to truly customize your delivery time and our conscientious drivers will call or text you when they’re close to your home. All you have to do is re-heat your meals and serve your hungry household. Give us a try! You might be living happily ever after sooner than you think.

[Empty refrigerator Image courtesy of Elizabeth_K via Flickr] 

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