Back in February, I wrote about ChefSteps’ plan to create a meat ‘marketplace’ that would connect “independent ranchers with ChefSteps users, offering them direct access to high-quality meat and ingredients at great prices.”
As it turns out, this effort was part of a larger initiative to expand into food sales that is starting to come into fuller focus. The most visible part of this foray into food sales is the company’s growing business selling meat and fish sourced from local food providers in the Seattle and Portland markets. In the Seattle market, the company offers fresh meat and fish from four local providers (three for meats, one provider of fresh fish). The kits for sale on the company’s website range in price from $79 to $239. And yes – one package, the ‘Mountain of Meat,’ includes 30 pounds of steaks. (Holy meat sweats).
And now, the company has started selling pre-cooked, frozen meals.The pre-cooked meals are sold as what ChefSteps is calling, ‘Joule On-Demand BBQ.’ The meals are all single-serve portions and range in price from $7 to $12. Unlike the fresh meat and seafood, the pre-cooked meals from ChefSteps offer local shipping as a fulfillment option. Deliveries are fulfilled by PostMates.
These pre-cooked meals appear similar to those announced by Nomiku in April. As with Nomiku’s new meal kits, the BBQ meals are intended to be prepared in a shorter amount of time than traditional sous vide, usually less than an hour.
This move into pre-cooked meals by both ChefSteps and Nomiku shows the growing effort by both companies to expand the appeal of sous video to a broader audience. Sous vide has traditionally appealed to foodies who are willing to invest more time in preparing chef-like meals, but with pre-cooked meal offerings, the companies believe sous vide becomes more appealing to those home cooks who prioritize convenience.
Of course, pre-cooked meals aren’t the only way to make cooking with sous vide easier for the home cook. ChefSteps and Anova have both been busy launching hands-free voice interface integrations this year, and in February ChefSteps became the first cooking appliance company to launch a chatbot for cooking with their Facebook Messenger bot.
So what became of the meat marketplace teased by the company’s February job listing? According to ChefSteps CEO Chris Young, the idea was to create a nationwide marketplace for “sous vide ready ingredients during the holiday season last year in partnership with the Snake River Farms brand.” As part of the effort, they sell meats nationwide to help ChefSteps customers get, as Young put it, a “center-piece protein for their holiday meal.”
As they worked on the plan, ChefSteps realized that costs of setting up a nationwide delivery system would be too high at this time, so for now the company is content to work out the kinks while selling meat and delivering pre-cooked meals in the Seattle and Portland markets.
“We’re continuing to experiment based on the positive feedback we’re getting from our Seattle and Portland customers, and we’re very aware that we have customers across the United States,’ said Young. “We definitely want to be able to serve those customers asap, but only when we think our service will deliver the experience and value our customers expect from us.”
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