Mâche Puts a Whole New Spin on Meal Prep
Oct 25, 2017 11:00AM
By Jordan Venema
Feed the Needs
Story by Jordan Venema
Photos by Amber Smith
Meal prepping is one way to save time during the week, unless you’re Kelli Black, who is prepping hundreds of meals a week – and not even for herself. But she does it willingly. A couple years ago, Black started Mâche, a farm-to-table meal prep and catering company.
Not pronounced mash or match or matcha, like the tea, but mosh. Black named the company after a kind of lettuce.
“I always grew up loving salads and eating greens, and when I started going to Whole Foods, I found it there and fell in love with it. It’s just a beautiful green, and hard to find,” says Black.
Unlike the lettuce, Black’s Mâche is a little easier to find, thanks to the World Wide Web and the nature of her company, which is centered on making meals accessible.
“We are a locally sourced, soy-free, preservative-free, gluten-free, and sort of an Old Testament style of eating by keeping it from the ground and within season,” Black says.
Mâche’s goal is simple: to sell the highest quality, most natural, organic meals possible.
For some, meal prepping means a peanut butter sandwich and a side of baby carrots, but Mâche puts those go-to meals to shame.
“Our clients hire us to prep their meals for the week, and we have a wide selection of options on our website. We do all the work. We’re sourcing and preparing, and their role is just to heat and eat. That isn’t a tag line,” adds Black, laughing. “I just happened to say that.”
Mâche offers more than 20 different meals, from grilled ground bison to stuffed bell peppers with organic beef, and almost every meal includes proteins, vegetables and carbohydrates. Mâche meals range from about 450 to 500 calories.
While Black wants to keep ingredients simple, that doesn’t stop her from creating gourmet options, liked the stuffed portabella mushrooms.
“It’s grass-fed beef filling, which is sautéed with onions and shallots and fresh garlic, and we add medium-grain brown rice and a little bit of kosher salt,” says Black. “That’s it. Typically each item we make is looking at five ingredients or less.”
A typical Mâche meal costs about $9 or $10, with options to save significantly when ordering 10 or 20 of the same meal. Plus, “we’re not just serving great food, we’re saving you time.”
While Mâche might make obvious sense from a standpoint of saving time and money, Black’s idea for the model was rooted in health.
“A lot of people are suffering with chronic health issues, so they have specific diets. Our meals can be designed to fit whatever your need is. Hence the tag line: Feed the need,” says Black, for whom the need was especially personal.
“When my daughter was born I knew something was different. She had trouble feeding, discomfort if I held her, and throughout her formative years she seemed disconnected. Touch was really hard for her.”
By the time Black’s daughter entered the school system, she was diagnosed with autism, and one doctor suggested bipolar disorder. Black wasn’t convinced.
“After years of shoving medication down her, I was fed up,” says Black. “I disagreed with the diagnosis, and I finally found a physician who tested for food allergies, and he said she had a high tolerance to dairy, eggs and mustard. So I took those three things out of her diet, and within two weeks I literally had a brand new kid. Within a couple weeks she didn’t need medication. All the ailments, stomach pains, fatigue – it all went away.”
This was more than a decade ago, before gluten had become something of a household word. The adjustment, Black says, was difficult.
“Eating out was very hard for us. We were a waitress’ nightmare. So we just didn’t eat out a lot.”
Instead, Black cooked, and the years of cooking with dietary restrictions paid off when she had the idea for Mâche.
“A friend of mine was working in sales, and he was eating fast food pretty much three meals a day and he never felt good and it was costing a substantial amount of money,” explains Black, who then offered to prepare his meals if he provided the food.
“In a week, he lost several pounds, he had more energy, he saved money, and the next week six of his coworkers called me. Before I knew it, we were prepping 200 meals on a Sunday.”
Mâche continues to prep Sundays, and pick-ups for orders are from 5 to 8pm on Sundays, and 8 to 11am on Mondays at 5533 West Perez in Visalia. Orders can be made in advance on the website.
“Meals are prepared the day of pickup so they are as fresh as can be,” says Black. “If you take them home and put them in the refrigerator they can keep up to five days.”
Black hopes to expand Mâche to include a storefront. She recently launched a Kickstarter fundraiser to acquire a permanent commercial kitchen. And maybe, just maybe, Mâche will eventually incorporate delivery for meals, though Black says clients enjoy picking up their meals. That means the meals aren’t just organic – so is her relationship with her clients.
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