Okay, let’s not even kid ourselves here. We all know I am Like a Chef‘s self-appointed ambassador! So, when the lovely Jolin Judd and her team invited me to an intimate afternoon cooking soirée, I was (all together now…) childishly excited at the opportunity to cook and chat with a bunch of the best foodies in Cape Town, but also to get my hands on her amazing mealkits.
Feature image credit: The Boldest Type
I first became aware of Like a Chef towards the end of last year through a conversation with a dear foodie friend and I was immediately incredibly intrigued by the idea of dinner meal kits. I’ve heard so much about it, but have never had the chance to try it out. And we all know I love to get my hands on products before I recommend them. Of course, after I was introduced to Jolin, owner and creator of Like a Chef, I immediately charmed off my feet by this amazing lady and her venture.
What is Like a Chef?
I reviewed one of the Like a Chef dinner meal kits and the services offered by Jolin a few months ago. I couldn’t stop raving about the convenience, freshness and quality of the pre-portioned ingredients in a blog where I cooked three days’ worth of meals using the subscription service.
The meal kit subscription service concept is pretty straight forward: Like a Chef works with incredibly inspiring, innovative and uber-modern chefs to create delicious, nutritious and well-balanced recipes. They box up these recipes, ready for your indulgence, and with a simple few clicks on their website, you select which box you would like for the next week. You can choose from a two- or four-person box, depending on your family size and budget. Then you sit back and wait.
Once your box is pre-portioned and packed, they deliver for free to your door on a Monday, all in an insulated ice box.
But, even though I can write books about this incredible service, for the purpose of this blog, I would like to focus on the official launch of Like a Chef in Cape Town, and the wonderful afternoon we spent cooking with Jolin.
The set up
I arrived at the Foodology Cooking Studio in Kenilworth on a bright and sunny Saturday afternoon, filled with anticipation for what I knew was going to be a great experience. I was excited at the guest list; a small selected handful of media and foodies – some I knew, and some I’ve been wanting to meet for ages.
We excitedly milled around the gorgeous open-plan space with glasses of wine in hand. We admired the elegant dining room and day-dreamy kitchen, which my all-time favourite food stylist and photographer, Clinton Morgen, was quickly turning into our playground for the day.
After we enthusiastically swapped greetings with old and new friends, we curiously peeked at the laden kitchen counter, filled with deliciously fresh ingredients, baking sheets, chopping boards and an array of chef’s knives and other equipment that left me a little green.
Jolin, always more comfortable behind the scenes than in-front of a camera, opened the afternoon with a quick overview of Like A Chef, and ran us through the activities planned for the day. Her calm nature and quiet, reassuring presence was definitely needed in this boisterous room of eager foodies! Right-hand-man, Clinton, busily prepared our stations and promised to guide us through the process, from unboxing to plating. Aprons tied and game faces on, we were ready to cook!
We swiftly divided ourselves up into two teams, as we were preparing two different dishes for a communal lunch feast. We collected our pre-packed ingredients from the Like a Chef team and divvied up the responsibilities…after topping up our glasses first, of course! Cooking is such a thirsty job…
The idea was to simulate the contents of Jolin’s meal kit dinner boxes as part of her subscription service, where everything has been pre-portioned and measured for you. Our portions were supersized, though, as it was meant to feed many mouths. The aim was to showcase just how convenient, hassle-free and nutritious this streamlined way of preparing meals can be, without any mess or fuss.
Our team made a bacon, mushroom and green bean gnocchi dish, and the other team made oven-baked trout, roasted asparagus and a tomato-dill salad with a honey-mustard dressing. Clinton got the ball rolling by pre-preparing samples of Jolin’s famous lentil-bobotie.
Now this all sounds very complicated and labour-intensive for the novice home-cook; but don’t worry – Jolin and her team has your back. There are a few easy-peasy shortcuts to make your cooking experience even more enjoyable. For example: you don’t have to make the gnocchi; Like A Chef provides you with fresh, ready-made gnocchi that is fail-proof and tastes delicious! And you don’t need to fillet and de-bone the trout – it has already been cleaned, cut and prepared; simply ready for you to load onto the baking sheet.
Jolin and Clinton were the perfect hosts and handed out their knowledge, hints and tips freely and with a smile throughout the afternoon. They kept our glasses full and offered a willing hand when one (or two!) was needed. We took turns to chop and dice and stir and sautée. The kitchen was filled with the most amazing tummy-grumbling aromas, yelps and giggles of joy and lots of sizzling.
When we were all done and our counters cleaned and organised, it was time to enjoy the fruits of our labours. We sat down to a beautifully laid out table, styled by the very talented Clinton himself. The first course was the lentil-bobotie sampler and I swear there were empty bowls even before Clinton made his way around the table serving! It was delicously more-ish, fragrant and comforting, without the added heaviness of minced meat.
Next up was the trout, asparagus and tomato salad. This is a dish I’ve made myself at home before and I can tell you, it’s now one of my all-time favourite summer meals.
The sense of achievement and pride around the table was tangible. Some of the group are proclaimed foodies, whilst others have never gotten the hang of cooking. Today, we were all equal, because the playing field was level, and we had a little help from our friends. Today, skills were gained and skills were refined; knowledge was imparted, but also shared.
We rounded up the afternoon feasting with the deliciously decadent bacon, mushroom and green bean gnocchi, all the while ooh’ing and aah’ing about the afternoon’s cooking experience.
The take-away of the afternoon for me was this: you don’t have to be a Master Chef to create stunning, healthy and wholesome meals for your family. You don’t need hours to prep or hours to shop. Rope in the kids, rope in hubby, grandma or father-in-law. Make dinners a family affair. Drag the little ones away from their various devices and instill a love of nutritious food from a young age by letting them help you prepare meals easily, conveniently and quickly.
I’ll be completely honest and say that I’ve been converted by Jolin and her amazing venture. Previously I’d raise an eyebrow and roll my eyes when someone said the words “meal subscription service”, but now, I can’t advocate this way of living enough (because it is a lifestyle!). Hence, I’m the self-appointed ambassador!
A special thanks to Anastasia from Foodology for opening her beautiful home and cooking studio to us for the day. A massive thanks to the gorgeous Clinton from Clinton Morgen for entertaining, hosting, helping and wining us. And the biggest thank you goes to Jolin and her team, not only for inviting and feeding us, but for opening our eyes to the future of meal preparation. And for making me feel, even just for an afternoon, Like A Chef.
But there’s more!
Of course we didn’t leave empty-handed. Jolin sent us on our merry way with yet another of her meal-kits, this time to make our very own chicken pies! I’ve included a few sneaky images here, purely for your indulgence. All I can say is that it was incredibly delicious and very Instagram-able! And no, you didn’t have to make the pastry from scratch; Jolin’s always got your back…
The Little Hedonist has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, I do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, menu changes, opening times, and contact details.
Disclaimer: I was invited to this event in my personal capacity. There was no expectation for platform coverage in the form of a blog, or social media posts. This is my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated/credited, are also my own.