Monday, 23 September 2013

A fresh start in food…


By Melanie Leyshon

Home-delivery food service Hello Fresh is not a takeaway, more a  ‘make-at-home’. All you do is browse online and choose three meals from their current recipe selection. Each week a box of quality ingredients (meat is ethically reared and fish comes from sustainable sources), together with step-by-step recipe cards, is delivered to your home.

Hello Fresh Butterflied Mexican Chicken
Since the launch last year, 3 million meals with an international flavour have been delivered across the UK. Hello Fresh best-sellers include prawn and prosciutto linguine and lamb kofta with almond couscous and cucumber salad. Prices start from £36 for three veggie meals for two. Patrick Drake, who started the company and heads the creative recipe team, talks to HFG.

What your background?
I was a lawyer at Goldman Sachs, but always loved cooking and teaching, so I decided to quit law and try to get a cooking show! I remember writing down this notion one day at work, along with the five steps I’d need to take to get there.

Patrick Drake founded Hello Fresh
How did you get on…?
Step one – to get as many culinary mentors as possible, so I started cooking in the kitchen of my firm at lunchtime. After work, I’d hop a cab and swap pin stripes for chef's whites on the way to the Cuckoo Club in Mayfair, while weekends were spent working for top Spanish chef Jose Pizarro. Pretty soon I resigned from my job… and, when I told my boss I wanted to get into cooking on TV, he almost choked on his cappuccino. What followed were petrifying auditions at New York’s Food Network, hours making videos for YouTube and a stint with Heston [Blumenthal] at the Fat Duck in Bray. Five years on, I’m happy to say I have a TV series in 47 countries and Hello Fresh, my food company, which teaches thousands of people to cook from the comfort of their kitchen. It's almost scary how my thoughts turned into reality.

Hello Fresh are fairly healthy meals that come in generous portions?
Yes, it’s all about healthy food, but we are not a pure health food company. We design each recipe to be nutritious, balanced and fresh, but if we think a spoonful of crème fraîche will complete the dish, we'll add add it (your readers can use reduced-fat ingredients, if they prefer). The biggest problem in the UK is the amount of processed food people buy and the gap that creates between that and our vision of preparing simple healthy meals at home. Nutritious, home-cooked food shouldn’t be seen as an indulgence but rather an everyday habit.

Are you health-conscious?
I have a busy lifestyle and need to refuel at least every two hours to keep going – as my friends and colleagues know! Many of us tend to put healthy food last, but it should be our priority. Whenever I’m tight for time, I force myself to take the time to eat and that way I work far more efficiently.

There’s an international flavour to Hello Fresh dishes…
That’s because I'm from London, although my family lives in Hong Kong and I've lived in France, Japan and Hong Kong - I love to move around - keeps life adventurous!

For details of the boxes, visit hellofresh.co.uk

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