Hands up if this is you:
You cooking skills are limited to fried eggs and 2-minute noodles, but…
You know you could cook something more impressive than fried eggs and 2-minute noodles, if only you had the time (and willpower) to find a good recipe and shop for it, and…
You don’t have the time (or willpower) to find a good recipe and shop for it. Wow, look at the number of hands going up! Don’t despair. A new food delivery service called Chef Up could prove to be your new culinary pal.
Chef Up delivers fresh ingredients to your doorstep in exactly the right portions. Meats are chopped and marinated, veges are washed and dried and even that one pinch of salt is measured and sealed in a neat little packet.
Basically, they give you everything you need to put together a classy meal – except the chef. That’s because you’re the chef. They’re cheffing you up, see? Hence the name Chef Up, geddit?
In the food-obsessed nation of Malaysia, there is a glut of options for those with a hankering for wholesome meals in the comfort of home:
First, you could actually, well, plan, shop for and cook the meal yourself. Too much effort? Okay, let’s move on.
Option two – get the meals delivered ready-to-eat. A quick Google search will turn up scores of such services, bringing you anything from fancy yuppie lunches to homemade tiffin meals. There’s also Foodpanda, which delivers directly from participating restaurants to your home. Alternatively, you can cater from the enterprising ‘aunty’ down the road who cooks for her grandkids anyway, and is happy to make an extra buck for minimal extra effort. Great, practical options – but lacks the personal touch, yes?
Enter Option three – Chef Up. A delicious meal is guaranteed (provided you follow the cooking instructions properly), and you get to see your loved-one’s jaw drop when you serve up the gourmet platter as you nonchalantly say ‘Oh this simple meal? Yeah, I cooked it myself. Ahem.’
The meals are designed to have cooking times of between 15 minutes to half an hour, and the only tools you need are a pot or frying pan. No cooking experience required.
Want to cook this? No experience needed.
The menu changes every week, and prices range from RM15 for something simple like Thai Basil Chicken, to RM26 for Kimchi Jjigae with chicken thigh and fresh tofu. Each order serves two, extra 4 bucks for delivery.
JD and Wilson will chef you up.
The business is run by JD Ng and Wilson Goh. Wilson works in advertising and events, and until very recently, JD managed the iconic Sanbanto butchery in SS2 and its associated restaurant The Pork Place in Puchong. He’s an avid gourmet home cook himself.
The business idea had been brewing in JD’s mind for months, seeded by the many requests he got from his customers and friends for of recipes of the delectable dishes he served up. “I would write out the recipes, and tell them where to get the exact ingredients, then they would leave determined to try,” said JD. However, upon follow up, he found that hardly any of the requests resulted in actual cooked meals.
Pesto beef bacon
“When I asked them why, they usually said they had no time to look for all the ingredients, and didn’t even know where to begin looking. And they also always say they were afraid it may not taste as good as mine,” he laughed.
He floated the idea of a portioned, fresh food delivery service to his buddy Wilson. The more they talked, the more they felt it was worth exploring. Such delivery services are available aplenty in the West, and a couple have also started up in Singapore. But in Malaysia, Chef Up is the first.
The business, which launched on 12 January, is starting small. For now, Chef Up delivers to SS2, Damansara, Mont Kiara and Bandar Utama. Orders are taken for the week ahead, with a cut-off for orders at 6pm on Sundays. Eventually they hope to provide next-day deliveries, and expand their sets to include group catering.
“I think we definitely have a niche here,” said Wilson. “I mean, who wouldn’t want to cook, if it was this easy?”
Check out Chef Up here.
Chef Up this Valentines?
If the thought of Valentines Day has you wanting to lie down with a stiff drink (like a thick Oreo Shake) you’re not to blame.
On Valentine’s Day, food prices are jacked up 300%, although they’re usually kind enough to throw in a rose or a piece of chocolate. Even then, you have to jostle with so many other desperados for a spot. And the traffic, oh the traffic! By the time you’re finally seated in the too-dimly lit interior of the restaurant (having paid for premium valet parking because there aren’t any bays left), you’re feeling like a complete sucker.
This is where Chef Up is hoping to swoop in and save you.
For Valentines Day week, they’re romanticising their menu, and throwing in homemade brownies FOC. Menu options are: lamb cutlets with couscous salad and a dill yogurt dip, ribeye steak with roasted potatoes and mushrooms, classic carbonara fettuccine with beef bacon and homemade pesto fettuccine with beef bacon.
The meat options go for RM59, while the pastas are RM30 – and remember, each portion serves two, so that’s not bad value.
And then of course, there’s that priceless look on your loved one’s face when you lift the cloche to display perfectly cooked lamb cutlets resting prettily on its bed of couscous salad. You can even imagine the ensuing conversation:
“For you, my dear,” you say, unveiling the meal.
“You cooked this?”
“Yes, my dear. For you.”
“Unbelievable. Is that couscous? I didn’t even think you knew what couscous was! You’re completely amazing. I’m so touched, oh pass me a tissue…”
Well, it may not pan out exactly like that, but at least you get to avoid the traffic.