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Munchery Begins Delivery to the Peninsula

Good news today! On July 10, 2012 we’re expanding our services to include those of you who live in the Peninsula. We’re very excited to be able to offer our fantastic meals to even more hungry locals. The below chart details the names and delivery fees of the additional towns that we’ll be bringing our goal of reinventing the personal chef experience to.

$4.95 Delivery Fee
Daly City
Brisbane
South San Francisco
San Bruno
Pacifica
$5.95 Delivery Fee
Millbrae
Burlingame
San Mateo
Foster City
$6.95 Delivery Fee
Belmont
Redwood Shores
San Carlos
Redwood City
Atherton
Menlo Park
Los Altos
Palo Alto
East Palo Alto
Mountain View
Woodside
Portola Valley
Half Moon Bay

The full details regarding order cutoff times, how to arrange for drop off cooler service (when you’re not home), and pretty much any question you can throw at us can be found in our exstensive FAQ.

In addition, we would like to welcome our new friends in the pennisula with a special introductory discount code. Simply enter GOPENINSULA to receive 30% off your first order (see below for details). Think of it as a warm welcome to the Munchery family. If you’re still waiting for our chefs to begin cooking in your neck of the woods rest assured that there are more cities debuting very soon, but please leave us a comment so we know that you’re interested.

* 30% Discount code is valid for new customers only. Cannot be combined with another promotion or deal. Expires on 7/30/12. Order total before discount must be below $50.

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Meet Chef Allison Jones

Chef Jones, who  grew up in the midwest, fondly recalls the bountiful family garden that annually produced gorgeous produce for their table. Food was an integral part of her identity, and she spent countless hours visiting markets with her father and even became quite adept at both catching and cleaning fish after long afternoons on the water. Allison was definitely not afraid of worms. Not to be outdone, Jones’s mother was a triple threat in the kitchen and could frequently be found baking, canning and preserving, while her Hungarian grandmother was blessed with legendary pastry skills.

Needless to say it sounds like this young lady was destined for a career in food, but she actually ended up in fashion design and occasionally supplemented her design work with restaurant jobs. Surprisingly though, Allison sought work in the front of the house. As time progressed she found it hard to continue to deny her cooking obsession and in 2010 enrolled in the California Culinary Academy.

These days you can find Allison preparing full-flavored meals, many of which are vegetarian, for Munchery. Her commitment to using seasonal ingredients and producing menus with serious flare will undoubtedly make her a customer favorite in no time. Now, in her own words, please allow Allison to offer you a little more insight into her foodie focused life.

What’s your earliest childhood memory of the kitchen? Did you bake cookies? Snap green beans in half? Make popsicles?

My earliest childhood memories of the kitchen take place in the house I lived in until I was seven. It had this big, sunny kitchen and I would watch as my mother cooked and baked. The smell of fresh baked baguettes still takes me there.

Which celebrity chef would you most like to cook with and what would you want to prepare?

Alton Brown. He is such a wealth of food science knowledge. I would want to make something intense and complicated so I could soak up some of that knowledge.

Your cousin from out-of-town has a long layover at SFO. He hops in a cab and texts you wanting to know the one thing he has to eat in the city before he rushes back to the airport. What do you tell him?

For a quickie stop in our fair city, I would say to enjoy something quintessentially San Franciscan. The tourist-laden location notwithstanding, the Eagle Cafe has awesome views of the bay, a bit of old-school charm, some tasty San Fran seafood classics, and of course, cold Anchor Steam.

Do you feel as though you have a signature dish? If so, what is it?

I guess if I have a signature-type dish it would be my pulled-pork with peach bourbon bbq sauce and house-made bread & butter pickles. It always seems to be a hit and is often requested by my friends!

Invite five famous or infamous folks (they can be alive or dead) to your dinner party. Who are they and what will you serve them?

Johnny Cash, Julia Child, Kool Keith, Pablo Piccasso, and Tim Gunn. Tapas and a barrel of sangria!

Which of your cookbooks has the most pages covered in olive oil and flour i.e. which one can’t you live without?

That’s a tie between two. One is this older Hungarian cookbook that my parents had when I was growing up. I refer to it often and dirtied it up real good practicing Dobos Tortes. The second is How to Cook Everything by Mark Bitman. I don’t own it, but I check it out from the library all the time & renew it as long as I am allowed to. It’s sort of become my bible. I should really buy that cookbook….

In your opinion, what are a few ingredients that we should definitely shop for at farmers markets and which should we leave to the supermarket aisles?

I always say get whatever you can at the farmer’s markets, not just because they are consistently offering awesome product, but because it supports smaller, family farms. That said, anything that you plan on eating raw, with simple preparation, or preserving should definitely come from farmer’s markets, because then you can really taste the difference in the freshness level and flavor of the product. Of course, one can’t find everything at the farmer’s markets, so the supermarkets do come in handy!

Which newly in-season product are you most excited to start slicing and dicing?

Right now I’m loving the stone fruit: apricots, white peaches and such, but I’m really anxious for the tomatoes to come around.

Think back to to your high school cafeteria days…what lunch lady “delicacies” used to make it onto your plastic tray?

For some reason, which is inexplicable to me now, I always looked forward to the Chicken Patty Day. They were always seasoned well and tasted so good on a bun with mayo and lettuce. Also, they came with mashed potatoes and gravy, which I’m still a sucker for to this day.

There are so many amazing food-centric films. Which one makes you hit rewind over and over again?

Goodfellas. The prison scene where Big Paulie’s slicing the garlic with a razor blade. Classic.

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If we peeked inside your fridge right now what would we discover?

Right now, busy as I’ve been, my refrigerator looks like a sad, neglected place. However, there’s lots of sauces, chili pastes, and pickled things.

What ingredient do you least like to work with?

I absolutely hate cutting onions of all kinds. It’s painful!.

What’s your favorite place to brunch in the Bay Area?

On a sunny Sunday, I love to grab some friends, a bottle of bubbles, mimosa juice, some sandwiches and snacks from Bi-Rite and stake out a spot in Delores Park for a picnic brunch!

What artist or album do you like to rock out to while you’re cooking?

I usually listen to archives of WEFUNK online. It’s a radio show out of Montreal that plays old-school hip-hop, funk, and soul. It keeps me moving in the kitchen!

We don’t know about  you but we certainly hope Chef Jones whips up a batch of the pulled pork with bourbon and peach sauce that she described above very soon! You can check out some of Allison’s past meals and reviews on our website and order her food online this week.

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Meet Chef Hayden McComas

Those of you who have been with us since the beginning will definitely be familiar with Chef McComas. Chances are that he cooked your first Munchery meal, made you crazy scrumptious wings for the Super Bowl or possibly even created your entire Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

Hayden definitely knows his way around the kitchen and like many of us his first and most vivid memories of that space involve smelling his mom’s freshly baked cookies as soon as he walked in the door from school. You’d also think that given Hayden’s very diverse array of menu items that he may have been cooking since birth, but that isn’t the case. McComas actually toiled away in a Silicon Valley cubicle for 10 years before he finally decided to pursue his true passion. We’re definitely glad he gave up post-its and spreadsheets for pots and pans!


Below, we have a friendly question and answer session with Chef McComas:

Which celebrity chef would you most like to cook with and what would you want to prepare?
Right now, it would have to be David Chang and I’d love to spend all day making ramen and swilling whiskey with the man.

Your cousin from out-of-town has a long layover at SFO. He hops in a cab and texts you wanting to know the one thing he has to eat in the city before he rushes back to the airport. What do you tell him?
I’d tell him to race over to Brazen Head for a burger, fries and a beer.

Which of your cookbooks has the most pages covered in olive oil and flour i.e. which one can’t you live without?
The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller

In your opinion, what are a few ingredients that we should definitely shop for at farmers markets and which should we leave to the supermarket aisles?
You shouldn’t leave anything to the supermarket unless it’s Berkeley Bowl. I find the farmers market is best for artisanal meat and really hard to find spices and seasonings.

There are so many amazing food-centric films. Which one makes you hit rewind over and over again?
Big Night

If we peeked inside your fridge right now what would we discover?
Nothing. I am at the kitchen all day.

What’s you favorite place to brunch in the Bay Area?
Beretta

What artist or album do you like to rock out to while you’re cooking?
Tool

This week you can sample this chef’s hard work on Thursday and Friday evening. Hayden will be serving a pan seared cod dish with a roma tomato and Tuscan bean salad as well as a comforting chicken and tomato soup with homemade potato chips and a grilled cheese blast from the past to dip with. You can order Chef McComas’s meals here and follow his adventures online at Twitter, Facebook, and Choice-SF.com.

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Chef Raymond Reyes

Chef Raymond Reyes makes his Munchery debut today after having worked at a number of San Francisco Bay Area hot spots including Gather, Michael Mina, and Blowfish. Raymond’s love of cooking began as a child growing up in the Philippines. Both of his parents were fantastic cooks who patiently answered numerous questions from their curious children. Chef Reyes’s own kitchen adventures began when he was only 10 years old. Raymond and his sisters would make sure that all of the ingredients for dinner were prepped before their parents got home from work. Then mom and dad would finish the dishes in the evening. These early experiences with mise en place as well as the daily trips to local farmers markets for vegetables, fresh caught fish, and even live chickens eventually led our newest addition to culinary school followed by numerous positions in the Bay Area restaurant scene.

Cooking is truly Chef Reyes’s passion and he credits Julia Child with being a huge inspiration for his career. Reyes prefers creating rustic dishes and loves braising. Appropriately enough, his debut dish is a classic Julia preparation of Beef Bourguignon. We think this dish looks and tastes like a masterpeice and are quite certain that Child would approve of all the hard work he has put into your dinner.

When it comes to local haunts Raymond likes to brunch at Oakland’s Rick & Ann’s and would recommend that out of town guests promptly get themselves to the Mission and more specifically Mission Chinese for a unique meal. Chef Reyes also can’t say enough about our fabulous fresh, local, and sustainable purveyors. He loves to support local farmers and frequently makes trips to farmers markets to see what’s available that day, and then proceeds to build his menu from there. Knowing the source your food is coming from is very important to this chef. Lately he has been looking forward to getting his hands on summer squash and we’re all excited to taste the results of his experiments with this classic vegetable.

When Chef Reyes isn’t pumping out electronica in his kitchen you can find him watching episodes of The Iron Chef and No Reservations. Perhaps one of these days Chef Bourdain will drop in on him? In the meantime you can check out Raymond’s past menus online and order his meals weekly via our website.

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Launching a startup when you have a family with kids

I often chuckle when I get my TechCrunch fix for the day. Headline usually reads something like “Ex-Googlers wants to be [insert name of hot startup] for [insert emerging market].” The stories are strikingly similar. They usually involve some young twenty-somethings. Red Bull is their staple beverage and they’re pulling all-nighters just like they did in college just a few years or even months back.

Many people ask us about how Munchery started, and especially how two middle aged guys with young families took a leap of faith to quit their jobs to start a company in one of the most hyper-competitive markets: food.

At Munchery, I guess the dynamic is a little different than most startups. No Red Bull, no all-nighters. Actually around 5:45PM, we’re looking at the clock because we need to scramble to pick up our kids and feed them Munchery. We got one hand on the phone talking to our wives, and the other hand firing off one last git commit before the day’s over. When we’re home we’re dads, not startup founders. I guess there are some priorities in life you just can’t compromise on. Of course, when the kids are asleep, or when you can find a spare moment, we work intensely hard (probably like any young dad out there).

I never imagined launching a startup would be like this. Tri and I were early team members at GetActive (I was #5, and Tri was like #15) . GetActive was a little Berkeley-based startup doing a CRM for all the notable non-profits. We grew from 5 to about 150 before we got acquired. By the time Tri left his director of engineering position there, the company had grown to over 400 and did a $56 million IPO in 2010. It was about 10 years from start to finish. I guess in startup terms, it was a success. Back then we didn’t have families, so we both put in our fair share of Red Bulls and all-nighters.

However, being part of a startup is really different than starting one. Starting Munchery was a pretty big risk for us. For me, quitting a comfortable job at Ask.com meant losing a nice salary and group health insurance, and with a 5 month old and 20 month old at the time, it was a huge life decision for me. Tri also had to worry about his own two kids (a little older than mine). There was rent, childcare expenses, insurance for the minivan, etc.

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I couldn’t help but think if TechCrunch would ever cover startup founders like us. Older guys. Family guys with young kids, and cash-strapped. They probably exist, but, boy I wish I heard of them when we started Munchery. Did it feel bold? If anything, I think our wives were actually bolder, considering they would support us unceasingly as we tossed our lucrative salaries to do a startup. Without their support, we can kiss Munchery goodbye. In fact, that’s our biggest advice – if you have full support from your spouse, you can move mountains and empty oceans.

In hindsight, quitting our jobs was the easy part. The hard part is actually executing our idea as any startup advice blog will tell you. About every other week, when Tri and I find some time to just talk 1-on-1, I have a familiar rant where I jokingly tease him, “Of all the startup ideas you had to have, why food!” I then recite a litany of reasons why a food startup that actually serves food (duh) is probably the hardest thing to do. Here’s my top five:

  1. Our food is fresh and has no shelf life
  2. Food has notoriously slim margins
  3. Consumers are used to paying little and getting a lot
  4. Making food is operationally intensive and requires a lot of manual labor (even though it’s really our chefs who have to do this)
  5. People eat and live fine today without us

(Don’t be shocked that a startup founder has these kind of rants. It’s normal. It’s a necessary catharsis).

“Why didn’t you come up with Twitter or something … all we would have to do is type and make stuff happen. Food is too hard. Why food?” I would quip. Tri, the calmer one between us, just looks at me, and ends this mini-tirade of mine by saying the same thing he did a year ago to me: “It is because food matters.” And I realize, I can’t get over the fact that I’m a sucker for that.

On the other hand, we have a lot of good things going our way:

  1. More and more people are educated about eating well. They want delicious AND healthy food. They favor quality ingredients from local farms.
  2. There’s a large and underserved community of highly skilled chefs who are eager to serve. We love enabling them.
  3. People’s lives are hectic, but they still need to eat everyday. Enjoying a good meal in the comfort of their homes is the highlight of the day for many.
  4. We have unwavering support from a continually growing audience. Thank you!!

We’ve just reached our one year anniversary. We have since raised a seed round from investors whom we are extremely grateful for, and learned the art of doing a lot with very little. We got wonderful press coverage and even made it onto TV!

We’re reinventing the personal chef and delivering gourmet to everyone. We want to help busy professionals and young parents like ourselves find another delicious, healthy and affordable option besides going out or cooking in. That’s our mission. And my dream is for TechCrunch to one day publish this article: “Rising Trend of Startups by Mid-30 Dads and Moms.”

 

(Part of an ongoing series of articles on food startup life)

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Munchery Launching in Marin

We’re excited to announce our upcoming launch of Munchery in Marin this Friday, June 1st. Now, the same delicious meals coupled with convenient ordering and delivery that our San Francisco customers have enjoyed is available to anyone in Marin. These are the same menu offerings that are freshly prepared daily by our chef lineup. Just enter your Marin ZIP code, and get dinner ordered online with just a few clicks (iPhone app support coming shortly).

Details on specific areas, delivery windows, and order cutoff can be found on our recently revamped Delivery FAQs. Meals to Marin carry a reasonable $5.95 delivery fee to help compensate the extended distances and tolls incurred by our delivery service. For times you’re not home, we’re also launching a free drop-off service in Marin using either a cooler you provide or a Munchery cooler (see details). Together, we feel these provisions bring our Marin customers a value that is incomparable to any other convenience service coming out of San Francisco.

To celebrate the launch, all first orders in Marin get 50% off. Use promo code GOMARIN when you checkout. This promotion ends on Friday June 15th. If you have a friend or family member in Marin, they might not know what an awesome thing it is that Munchery has finally landed in Marin. So, we’re relying on you to help spread the word. Tell your friends about the GOMARIN promo code, or send some invites to them for a 20% discount (you’ll also get 20% off an order as well).

You can also be sure we have our sights set on other SF Bay Area cities. So stay tuned. “Gourmet delivered to everyone” is happening.

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