Clicking through my meal choices I had the difficult task of deciding between Mark Bittman’s Pad Kee Mao, Sam Sifton’s Orange Beef or Classic Kung Pao Chicken from New York Times Cooking. I wasn’t on GrubHub, Seamless or Umi Kitchen. The chefs wouldn’t be cooking the meals for me, but I would get their recipes and hopefully their secrets with the meal delivery kit from Chef’D.
In the past few years meal delivery kits have become the darlings of both busy professionals and venture capitalists who have dumped billions into them, but many have failed to capitalize on existing brands with recipes from chefs Americans already love. Enter Chef’D.
Launched in 2015, the company sees itself as a meal store, partnering with brands such as Good Housekeeping, chef Chris Santos and NYT Cooking. You search by recipe or brand and then order a meal either à la carte or by a delivery plan. Prices range from $24 and up for two servings and with more than 300 meal kits there is something for almost every type of home chef. Having access to an easy way to master the vast library of NYT Cooking recipes appealed to me and I focused on their offerings, selecting the Kung Pao Chicken.
The bright orange Chef’D box with a NYT Cooking logo arrived on a Friday afternoon and I have to admit being a bit giddy with anticipation as I unpacked it. One of the biggest criticisms meal delivery kits have faced is the packaging waste. Obviously, any service wants to ensure all the ingredients arrive fresh and undamaged. I did find the Chef D’ packaging to be excessive with some ingredients packed in more more than one plastic bag, but a message on the box did inform me that all of the packaging was either recyclable or biodegradable.
Included with the recipe and ingredients was a short description of the origin of our meal and insight into the flavor profiles. The meal was easy enough to prepare and while it did include more steps than other meal delivery kits I’ve used in the past, Chef’D tells you before ordering how long the preparation and cooking should take.
I did cook the chicken slower than the recipe called for allowing for the meat to become tender before adding in the rest of the ingredients including peanuts and chile peppers which I expected to make the dish spicy. On top of the slightly sweet rice though the dish had more of a woodsy flavor with the sauteed bok choy adding balancing it out. As my husband and I sat down to enjoy our King Pao Chicken on Friday night it was nice to know the history of the dish and we were already looking forward to learning something new next time.