L.A. chefs Jon and Vinny review the most popular dinner (and lunch) hacks that have stars and execs — including Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez and Katy Perry — doling out dough for the new on-demand, diet-by-delivery services.
Time-starved honchos who put a premium on convenience increasingly are relying on a vast and growing array of time-saving (and generally healthy) meal and meal-kit delivery programs. "I sign up for Paleta meals every time I direct, for the length of the shoot," says director and producer Bill D'Elia. "It keeps me away from the temptations of the craft service table." Adam Stotsky, president of E! Entertainment and Esquire Network, tried Sakara to get his diet on track. "I wanted to feel lighter and brighter and simply eat more clean," he says.
Jon Favreau was sold as a subscriber and later, an investor, after touring the Munchery headquarters with Roy Choi while working on their film Chef. To review some of Hollywood's favorite meal makers, THR recruited chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (pictured). The duo behind L.A.'s Animal, Jon & Vinny's, Trois Mec and more partnered with meal service Plated in 2015 on three dishes (and sold about 50,000 boxes in one weekend), so they know what they're talking about — if they are somewhat ambivalent. "It's odd to me that people don't have time to go eat somewhere," says Dotolo. But, as Shook notes, "If I were mad rich and didn't want to have a personal chef, it might not be bad to have a refrigerator full of these meals."
Chef, nutritionist and cancer survivor Kelly Boyer introduced Venice, Calif.-based Paleta in 2006 with a farm-to-table approach, complete with a certified green commercial kitchen. The company delivers its vegan, vegetarian, Paleo, dairy-free, high-protein, gluten-free, allergy-conscious and pregnancy-oriented meals in California, Arizona and Nevada. From $48 a day, plus delivery, for three meals and a snack.
A-LIST EATERS Michael Patrick King, Regina King, Felicity Huffman, Brad Goreski, Jessica Biel, Jeremy Piven, Sarah Paulson, Tom Arnold, Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum
CHEFS' TAKE "This one doesn't seem as curated or personal as some of the others do. It's more mainstream," says Shook. Adds Dotolo: "Maybe they're trying to sell the green aspect, but the pea pods weren't manicured or cleaned."
In 2010, former fitness trainer Mariana Rossano and a board of nutritionists, doctors, restaurateurs and athletes founded the Sun Valley, Calif.-based company (the acronym stands for Zero Effort Nutrition) that delivers vegetarian, vegan, Paleo, weight loss, family-style and athlete-oriented meals in SoCal with plans to expand to San Francisco and New York City this year and nationwide by 2017. Starting at $9.95 for one dinner or from $44.95 for three meals and a snack, plus delivery.
A-LIST EATERS Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Denise Richards, Vanessa Hudgens, Kris Jenner
CHEFS' TAKE "If you don't want a big bolt of flavor, you go with something like this," says Dotolo. "This feels very comfortable. It's a waffle with fresh fruit. It's a piece of salmon. It's very approachable, healthy food."
Chef Raffi Asadourian (formerly of Patina and Pino Bistro) is the culinary director of this Burbank-based company, launched in 2005, that delivers nationwide (minus Alaska). The all-natural meals include weight loss, vegetarian, gluten-free, low cholesterol, fitness/performance and new-mom programs. From $39.95 a day plus delivery, for three meals and a dessert.
A-LIST EATERS Katy Perry, Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Lopez, Pink, Chaz Bono
CHEFS' TAKE "The raspberry-cranberry dessert bar was a little hard, a little raw, but good; it tasted like cookie dough, which I love," says Shook. Adds Dotolo: "There were fresh fava beans. No canned vegetables. Hats off to that! They're applying chef techniques found in fine dining, and it's a lot of work. Do I think it needs a little salt? Of course."
Introduced in 2015 by nutritionist Meryl Pritchard and headquartered in Lincoln Heights, Kore delivers gluten-free, dairy-free organic vegan, sustainable meat and whole food-based cleanse meal programs in Los Angeles. From $70 a day for two vegan meals, from $115 a day for three sustainable meat meals and two snacks; delivery included.
A-LIST EATERS Ben Affleck, Ana Ortiz, Donovan Leitch, Zac Efron, Michael Pena
CHEFS' TAKE "It looks healthy, the colors are vibrant, and it feels good to eat it," says Shook. "Packaging looks expensive. Each one of these cartons is probably hand-tied, boxes are biodegradable, and they use glass drink bottles." Adds Dotolo: "This is macrobiotic, and it tastes very healthy. It's seasoned, but it doesn't have a ton of flavor."
Created by former Wall Street exec Whitney Tingle and certified health coach Danielle DuBoise in 2011, the New York-based company delivers its gluten-free organic meals with a healthy dose of greens to 48 states. From $69 (including delivery) for three meals a day with a weekly subscription.
A-LIST EATERS Lena Dunham, E! Entertainment and Esquire Network president Adam Stotsky, Kate Hudson, Chrissy Teigen and stylists Arianne Phillips, Jen Rade, Kate Young, Micaela Erlanger, Leslie Fremar, Cher Coulter and Caley Rinker
CHEFS' TAKE "This one gives you untraditional, more forward-thinking American flavors," says Dotolo. "Very California, in the Moon Juice or Cafe Gratitude world." Notes Shook: "There was real coconut milk with the Sweet Thai oatmeal and tahini dressing with the salad. It feels healthy. It's got a good aesthetic."
John Stewart and Carl Ferro (husband of Angie Everhart) in 1997 debuted The Delivery Zone, which offered meals based on a low-carb, high-fat program popularized by biochemist Barry Sears in his 1995 best-seller The Zone. Now called Sunfare, Stewart and Farro's business delivers chef-prepared meals in Los Angeles and Phoenix offering vegetarian, Paleo, family-style and all-natural, gluten-free options. From $35 a day (including delivery) for two meals.
A-LIST EATERS Jack Black, Kim Kardashian, Eva Longoria, Ashley Greene, Mark Wahlberg, Britney Spears, trainer Nicole Stuart
CHEFS' TAKE "This food looks good and tastes good, really fresh," says Shook. Adds Dotolo: "The barbecue chicken salad was huge. Two people could almost share it. I was impressed with the herb-grilled salmon; the proteins were cooked well."
Launched in 2011 in San Francisco, Munchery expanded its chef-designed meals and meal-kit delivery to L.A. in 2015; it now serves 10 states and the District of Columbia. In the mix are family and kids' meals as well as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free options. Prepared entrees start from $8 and cooking kits from $20; delivery not included.
A-LIST EATERS Olivia Munn, Taye Diggs, Maury Sterling; investors include L.A. chef and Kogi founder Roy Choi, Jon Favreau, Jared Leto and Edward Norton.
CHEFS' TAKE "Their Perfect Burger is great for a burger out of a freaking box," says Dotolo. Adds Shook: "You can tell by the branding and the biodegradable packaging that they have a lot of money behind them. And this food tastes the most real. Not like it's coming out of someone's warehouse."
Husband-and-wife chef team Craig and Paola Petrella created their Van Nuys business in 2006, delivering 100 percent organic meals in Los Angeles for every dietary variation. Starting at $32 (including delivery) for one dinner a day with a monthly subscription.
A-LIST EATERS Colin Hanks, Josh Duhamel, Frank Gehry, Kate Beckinsale, Sally Field, Vanessa Williams, Zach Braff, Cybill Shepherd, Kathleen Kennedy
CHEFS' TAKE "There were loads of ingredients in the salad: flowers, fennel, grilled shrimp that are kind of salty, peaches, pumpkin seeds," says Dotolo. "It has a lot going on." Notes Shook of this and other meal programs: "You've got to ask yourself: Is this salad better than going to Sweet Greens? Wouldn't you rather eat the grilled chicken salad from Joan's on Third?"
The El Segundo, Calif., company debuted in 2015 and delivers meal kits developed by chefs (including Ben Ford, Harrison's son), culinary experts and health-oriented publications to 48 states. Offerings include gluten-free, vegetarian, family-style and Weight Watchers options. A recipe partnership with The New York Times is coming soon. Starting at $19 for meals for two; delivery included on orders more than $40.
A-LIST EATERS Publicist Susan Madore, John Fogelman, CAA agent Lisa Shotland
CHEFS' TAKE "They used expensive shrimp in the couscous dish," says Shook. "And there's something about doing the cooking yourself; you get in touch with the food, you're using your hands. Someone who likes cooking can get all of the ingredients purchased and sent to their doorstep. It feels more human than a packaged meal."