We are firmly in the second wave of prepared meal kit delivery. Companies are specializing, doing more of the work for you, and are even built around specific devices. Which is what makes FirstChop intriguing, as it combines all of these new wave trends in its forthcoming service.
Launching in December, FirstChop is looking to stand out in the competitive meal shipping space in few ways. First, it only does meal proteins: chicken, beef, lamb, etc.; no vegetables, no starches. Second, all those proteins are cooked, and then frozen and vacuum sealed, so you can eat them on your own schedule. And third, the Bay Area-based company is basically giving away a sous-vide wand so all customers have to do is put the frozen bag of meat in hot water to prepare it.
For $109 (during pre-order, then it goes up to $139), customers can order the Starter Kit, which includes a sous vide wand and 9 servings of protein. There’s also the Family Box for $119 ($129 post pre-order), for 24 servings, and Co-Founder and CEO Ajay Narain told me that a third option with 14 servings will sell for $79. There is no monthly commitment.
The sous-vide wand is a third party device from a “reputable” manufacturer that FirstChop is just putting its name on. When asked about the sous-vide prepared meal delivery players already available like Nomiku and ChefSteps, Narain told me, “We’re the reverse. We’re starting with food and giving away the sous vide machine.”
Narain, along with Co-Founder and Chef Marc Rasic are looking to avoid the pitfalls that have befallen some of the first gen meal delivery companies. Rasic worked as a chef for the royal family of Luxembourg, ran the kitchens at Google as the search giant went from 2,700 to 65,000 employees, and worked at Munchery as that company went to market.
What they learned from their own personal experiences with meal kits, as well as scaling up kitchen production is that FirstChop doesn’t need or want to ship items like broccoli. Fresh food spoils if you don’t cook it soon after it’s received. Plus, adding fresh food complicates the logistics of packaging and shipping, and most people already have easy access to broccoli.
What people don’t have access to, is braised short rib, cooked for 16 hours, or Black Garlic Pork Loin, Petite Beef Medallions, or Peruvian Grilled Chicken. Cooking such protein, Narain says, is the hardest part of making a meal. Additionally, Rasic learned from his time at Munchery that “A lot of people hate touching [uncooked] proteins.”
By pre-cooking and freezing the meats, FirstChop believes it can simplify the shipping process, while giving the user more flexibility as the ingredients last longer. Additionally, they can serve the whole continental United States at launch to introduce people across the country to new meals they normally wouldn’t get (and no touching raw chicken!).
FirstChop is privately funded and its service be available in early December of this year. We’re excited to try it, and see how this focused approach helps shape the next phase of meal kit delivery.