Saturday, February 18, 2006

Solid Investment / Week of Dinners

Juniper Café Novato

Some time ago I sold a few shares of stock that I had received from a former employer. That action put me on a permanent cold call list at several brokers. A couple times a year they call me to ask if I would like to invest in whatever stock is hot. I blow them off by telling them that I am only investing in groceries. I guess they took that as an investment in grocery company stocks. I, however, was investing my money in groceries to feed my family. That’s how the working class lives these days. This week I made another investment in groceries.

Enter Chef Todd Davies. A CIA graduate, he has spent years in some of the finest kitchens in the country, including local luminaries The Lark Creek Inn and The Flying Saucer. His resume is impressive. His most recent enterprise is Juniper Café in Novato, California where he now resides. It is a café attached to a country club hidden on a hill. He also runs a catering business from his compact kitchen. A new part of the chef’s enterprise is Week of Dinners. I read an ad in the local paper that said “Healthy Home-cooked meals for busy people, seven dinners a week $159, each dinner feeds 4 to 6 people”. I was interested and signed up for a night session. I was told to bring a cooler to pack up my dinners.

It works like this. On arrival you prepay your tab and are offered wine and other beverages. This put the night into relaxed party mood. Chef Davies and his staff have prepared seven workstations, one for each dinner. Each station contains the ingredients, containers and instructions you need to assemble your dinners. As you finish each dinner you move clockwise to the next dinner station. All the shopping, washing, cutting and what not are done for you. The staff even does the clean up afterwards. If you’re a little timid about recipe construction Chef Davies is on hand to help you figure it out. He is calm and reassuring. Marin Farmer’s Market produce, natural beef and pork and free range poultry are the norm. You take it home and freeze your meals until you’re ready to cook.

Image hosting by Photobucket
Marjorie and Regina split a week of dinners

Image hosting by Photobucket
Chef Davies lends a hand

Is the food good? Oh Yeah! I spoke with Martha and Dennis Palm of Novato. They have been participating in the Week of Dinners since November and love it.
So far we have prepared the pork loin with rosemary stuffing and braised short ribs of beef with carrots and red potatoes. Both were stellar. The menu changes weekly and is posted on the web site.

Image hosting by Photobucket
Stuffed Pork Loin with vegetables and apple sauce

Image hosting by Photobucket
Braised short ribs of beef


Jennifer Maiser said...

Interesting. I had just heard about this idea from a friend in Sacramento, but she was lamenting that the place where she participated did a lot with foods that she wouldn't necessarily eat -- this sounds much more up her alley with farmers' market, in-season produce and natural meats.

Anonymous said...

The braised beef short ribs caught my attention. I'd be interested to know how they were prepared. I just made an attempt at some yesterday, and they were simply WAY too fatty. They've pretty much been permanently banned from my roster, barring any last-minute interventions from someone who knows how to make them less-fatty tasting....? (see for MY attempt at making them...)

Sam said...

that is a very interesting concept. Thank you for sharing it with us.
Do you think that this would save you money or be more expensive than doing things yourself?

Anonymous said...

Hi Greg!

What a fantastic idea! It also sounds like an excellent way to get families interested in food, especially nowadays when people are more and more disconnected from the food they eat.

Thanks for sharing this!

Greg said...

Jennifer-I've seen Dream Dinners which is a similar concept.Their menus seem more like covered dish/casserole items. My family says WOD menu is like eating in a nice restaurant every night
Mark- the recipe calls for a slow cooker. I allowed over six hours of cooking time.I put it in the refer overnight.. the fat rose to the top and I skimmed it before I reheated the dish.

Greg said...

Sam- I miss your posts.I think I am saving money. There is a lot of food, enough for 4 of us at dinner and 2 smaller lunches the next day.If I purchased the items at say Whole Foods I think it would cost more.
Ivonne- We spent about and hour and fifteen minutes putting together 7 meals.It was part social event,cooking class, cocktail happy hour event.

Mona said...

Wow that's great. I'm glad you tried it. I've been reading about this sort of thing a lot recently and it seems like it's becoming the new thing in "catering."
That pork looks excellent.

Drive By Fruiting said...

Your blog rocks!

Anonymous said...

I am Week of Dinners biggest fan. The meals are fresh, organic and delicious. Several of my friend are now using week of dinners also. It is so lovely to sit down in your own home to a gourmet, hot meal with your family and friends with out the extra hours of plan, shop, chop, cook, clean... I sometimes buy enough for 12 (two dinners) and have a dinner party. We had another family over on Friday served the lazagne (one dinner). There was enough for 9 people. Todd Davies is the man... Try week of dinners you will never go back!