We chat with Josh Katt, CEO of Kitchfix, a meal delivery service based in Chicago that believes that a meal can be healthy and tasty. Check it out!
Q: Please present yourself and Kitchfix to our audience.
Josh Katt – I am Josh Katt, the founder of Kitchfix, a prepared meal delivery service that started about 7 years ago. I had spent many years in the restaurant industry and started cooking on the side for someone who was recovering from cancer, so I learned all about the anti-inflammatory diet, paleo diet.
I really fell in love with that style of cooking and ended up getting my own kitchen. Instead of making different food for all my clients, I started making the same food. I built the website and was able to generate a good amount of initial interest.
It’s been an amazing ride ever since! We went through the era of subsidized meal companies getting millions of dollars, we rode through that and I think we are coming out the other side with a loyal customer base – and we get to do what we love every day, which is to make healthy, delicious food for people and serve them.
Q: Can you explain the idea of food as medicine? What ingredients lead the way in that context?
Josh Katt – That’s a great question. Everything you put in your body has the potential of helping or hurting you. I thought: what better way to help someone than to make food that is ‘craveable’? And what can we do to improve the nutrients and ingredients to make such appealing food have a positive impact on health?
A lot of people who are recovering from illnesses come to us, but also people who are trying to maintain or lose weight. We also have people who believe in the style of food that we make – anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense.
The concept of food as medicine can have more than one interpretation. In our case, we avoid some things that are known to cause inflammations, such as refined vegetable oils, dairy, soy, corn, or excessive amounts of sugar – we only use honey, maple syrup, and apple juice concentrate in our meals (as sweeteners).
We try to make things as real and unrefined as possible. ‘The less refined, the better’ is our stance. Also, as minimal of an intervention as possible is our approach: it could be by buying organic or getting meat from a local farm where animals roam around outside, we do all of those things.
Q: When people outside the US think of food in America, it is not the healthiest option that comes to mind. But that has been changing within the last years for sure. How do you see that change? Is it something popular or still a growing niche?
Josh Katt – Our company fits squarely in where the trend is going and has been. A reason for being so successful is that we were in this unique niche and we have really high standards, so people were looking for a company like us.
I think what has happened is that we’ve seen everyone getting into the paleo, Whole 30 crowd, and understanding why it’s good. But I think people started to shift the other way: eating paleo from Monday through Friday and having a beer and some pizza with friends on weekends. People try to live a balanced life. I think that’s one of the things that have changed, especially with the pandemic going on. People are looking for comfort – sometimes a slice of pizza can bring some comfort.
In terms of our meals, we look for inspiration in a lot of other cultures. I think there are so many tasty foods around the world and different have done a better job of creating ‘craveable’ flavors than our cheeseburger by using fish sauce, different cuts of meat, cooking techniques, fresh herbs, onions… It’s so much easier to cook healthier when you do that.
Q: As a CEO and a businessman, how do you see as your target customers? Are they mostly young or can you also reach older people?
Josh Katt – It’s across the board. We’ve got people who might order food for their parents. Our food isn’t very simple, so people ordering from us tend to appreciate different cultures, are overly picky about what they are eating, and like to experiment. But we definitely have some people who are taking care of their parents or are helping to do so through good food.
There are people who come and go, who are maybe on a diet or going through a busy season of their lives – busy professionals. People who are parents with young kids: they make a meal for their kids and eat Kitchfix because it’s one last thing to have to worry for themselves.
Also, people who are working out and professional athletes, who are being paid because of the way their bodies perform. There are people who come for us to that too.
Q: I imagine that with this pandemic your operation had to change a bit. What changes have you made and what was the impact on your company?
Josh Katt – It was hard. We did a lot of delivery, so we had to figure out more contact list delivery. A lot of our customers would give us back their cooler bag, so we’d try to reuse those and get less wasteful. But we stopped taking bags for a while.
I think the world is now shifting into a more delivery focus. Almost every restaurant now is a competitor, which is interesting. We are happy to continue to serve a need. It is an interesting time for delivery in general, a lot of cool things will come out of this.
We’ve got a lot to be thankful for and we’ve been hanging in there. A lot of my team is remote, for instance in our marketing and customer service. Our kitchen’s obviously full and I come to the office every day. It seems like, hopefully, we are coming out of all this.
Q: Now that people are at home, quarantined or not, making food for yourself is a necessity or a new interest. Do you have any tips for those ‘newbies’, any ingredient that should pop up on your plate that you don’t think about normally?
Josh Katt – Yes, I’ll give two tips. One would be: if you are following recipes, get yourself a digital scale. I think that’s a game-changer since it is so much more accurate and easier to get the recipe right.
Also, cooking without a recipe is less of a chore. My strategy is always to give a quick marinate on a meat, nice seasoning or spices, then throw it down the grill, throw some vegetables in the oven, olive oil, garlic, and salt. It’s really simple.
Cooking can seem overwhelming but if you are cooking at home and put on your plate a nice steak, some roasted broccoli, and some roasted potatoes, that’s a pretty freaking good meal! You don’t need much else to go with it. Trust your instincts and give it a shot.