A couple weeks ago, Taylor had the pleasure of sitting down with Jo and Jaq, the girls from Sweat and Tell, to answer any and all questions they had about our meal prep delivery service in Orange County.
The girl’s had such an amazing time, that I just had to share it with you today!
Joanna: Happy Wine Wednesday.
Jacquelyn: And Water Wednesday.
Joanna: And Water Wednesday for this one. We are here with Chef Tay!
Jacquelyn: She's drinking water because she's pregnant, but-
Taylor: Yeah, in case you didn’t know.
Joanna: We just find out, super exciting, but basically today we just wanted to do a little video so you guys can get to know one of our favorite gals a little bit better. I'm sure that you've seen us post a ton of her food by now.
Jacquelyn: She even brought treats for us.
Joanna: Yeah, tonight.
Jacquelyn: Give me your close up.
Joanna: But wanting to really just put a face to the name and yeah, just say more about you.
Taylor: Hi everybody.
Jacquelyn: A little bit about your business and how it just started off.
Taylor: So, I'm sure everybody's wanting to know that this was my goal from the beginning and I had this master plan, but the actual truth, like this kind of fell into my lap, and I knew it was like thrust into my life. I was always a private chef and I did catering in Orange County for a really long time, and I had a mutual friend give me some contact of her friends that were looking for some meal prep, and my husband and I were planning our wedding at the time, so, I was desperate for extra cash, and it was four people.
That's how it started, and six weeks later, I had to quit my job. I had to hire an assistant, I had to get all this equipment and a year and a half later where we've quadrupled our business, we're bringing all these new items and new services on, hiring new people and it's growing super fast. I'm really thrilled and just trying to keep up pretty much.
Jacquelyn: That's what you know it's good food when six weeks in, you already have to quit your old job.
Taylor: Yeah, pretty much.
Joanna: Exactly. How many different recipes do you have?
Taylor: We have like hundreds and if you're ever been on our website, you can actually see most of them are on there, but we don't-
Jacquelyn: Yeah, I don't think we’ve gotten the same one twice ever, and we've had dozens of meals this year. So, it's pretty impressive.
Taylor: We try to keep it fresh and keep it interesting. We do have certain items that we make every single week because we have customers that order from us weekly and they have their favorites, but we do seasonal stuff. We rotate a lot of things. There's things that don't make it onto the website that only make it into meal plans and stuff, and yeah, I would say we're probably, well over 200 or 300 different items. Yeah, that’s-
Joanna: That pumpkin seasonal soup was like my favorite.
Jacquelyn: That was so good.
Taylor: It's so good and it's so simple.
Jacquelyn: Okay. Were you supposed to put the kale on it or on the side?
Taylor: You know I have people do both.
Jacquelyn: Okay. I did all the side and Joe did it on the top and I was like, I feel [crosstalk].
Taylor: I envision it as like a soup and a salad, but I haven't had multiple people put that-
Jacquelyn: No, cause she’s really liked it. It was so-
Joanna: It was so good.
Taylor: I’ve had many people do that and they're like, “This is great. It adds texture,” and they add the cheese and the nuts and everything in there and I'm like, “Hey, if that works for you, go for it. Be creative. We don't really make you do things a certain way. We are going to let you figure out what works for you.”
Jacquelyn: That's one of the reasons Joe can probably attest to this too, that I like the way that your meal prep service goes, because it's individually packaged each thing. So, for some things, like even if you do have the list of what goes with what, if I'm like, “Oh, I want these veggies with this,” you have the freedom to do that, and that brings us to our next question to when you're talking about customizing the plans and things like that, how do you do that for all the different types of diets? There are vegan, vegetarian, if somebody doesn't want red meat, all of that?
Taylor: It’s a really good question, and that's what the main part of our business is and what sets us apart is that we are completely customizable, and the fact that we package everything separately actually makes that a lot easier for us because if we make all these different vegetables, I can actually give these vegetables to different people by having, I call it like, a legit method.
So, say you have your A, B and C and your D, and your F, and this person can't have dairy, so B doesn't work for them, so I put A, D and E together. This person doesn't eat red meat, so they’re either getting B, C and F, or that's just how I'm explaining it, but that way, it makes the fact that we make everything so customizable, actually achievable, because we do have so many different kinds of programs.
We are completely allergy friendly. If you can't have nuts, that's fine. Everything is individually portioned, so we can just omit your nuts, no problem. I think that seems to work for a lot of people because, especially here in Orange County, I think everybody has something they're not eating [crosstalk] and I have people call me everyday and they're like, “Do you do dairy free?” I'm like, “Absolutely, yeah.”
Jacquelyn: You’re getting everything.
Taylor: They're like, “You do gluten free?” I'm like, “Well actually, like 99% of our items are gluten free and we don't actually manufacturer any items with gluten, so, we’re a gluten free facility,” which is really great for people that have Celiacs and stuff for there's no cross contamination and things like that, but yeah. I would say about making sure the customer's needs and wants are being heard and met is our number one priority, besides tasty.
Jacquelyn: This muffin is delicious.
Taylor: That's gluten free and it's got chia seeds, so it's like full of fiber and proteins so, it's actually gluten free if you think about it. Breakfast snack does that.
Jacquelyn: What's this one? Carrot cake?
Jacquelyn: We had that one.
Taylor: Oh my gosh. It's so good, and I love it because it's actually lactose free. So, a lot of people don't do dairy because they can't have lactose. They’re lactose intolerant, and the great thing about goat cheese is that it is lactose free. So-
Jacquelyn: I actually didn't know that until you-
Taylor: I told you, yeah, you're like-- Cause I asked you, I'm like, “You guys are doing goat cheese?” You're like, “Oh.”
Joanna: We were like give us all the cheese.
Jacquelyn: I know.
Joanna: Goat cheese is my favorite.
Taylor: It’s so thinly and delicious and so flavorful, it adds another layer to the thing. I don’t say on average we're doing like 75 orders a week, which doesn't sound a whole lot when you compare to bigger companies in the area or national brands and stuff, but we're not really trying to be a big huge company because we really want to have relationships with our customers.
We really want to make sure they feel if they need to call me, they get me on the phone. If they have a question, they’re not being pawned off on a service or, “Hey, this is our FAQ or whatever.” When you call our number, I answer the phone. If you email us, me or my husband responds to you like that day with actual answers, and we want to maintain that. We don't want to lose that connection cause I think that is so important when it comes to food because food is a very personal thing.
Joanna: Yeah, it definitely makes, at least for us when we've done it, I've done other meal prep services and yeah, I've had good experience, but I also, I felt like a number, you know what I mean? So, this definitely feels more personal, more customized, and I feel a little bit more confident as to where my food is coming from, if that makes sense.
Taylor: It doesn't make sense, and I've had people call me and maybe they've been ordering for several weeks and they're like, “My name is so and so. I just had a question.” I'm like, “Yeah, I remember you like you're the dairy free and you don't like Broccoli or whatever,” and they're like, “You remember that?” I'm like, “Yeah, I remember everyone.
I legitimately remember everyone.” If you ordered with us like more than two times, guaranteed, you call me, I'll recognize your name because I'm the one that writes your menu every single week. I'm the only one that writes menus. It's not like this gets pawned off on different people.
I definitely have chefs in the kitchen preparing my recipes and stuff, and they're amazing and they have their own recipes too, but when it comes to writing your menu and taking your input that you give me and building your meals for the week, I do that. So, I feel like I know you and I don't really know you.
Joanna: That’s exactly what you're hearing everyday.
Jacquelyn: Every single day.
Joanna: One of the things to the items that's really different than the other ones out there, the other brands, especially the larger ones, is a lot of times you still have to cook, you have to slice and dice, and you also fully cooked and fully prepared, which is so easy.
Taylor: Yeah, we want to make it easy. We do have a separate packaging so we force you to put everything on a plate, which doesn't work for everybody, but I think-
Joanna: Are those freezer seal packed so you can freeze those?
Taylor: I actually have people that all they do is order proteins from us, and they'll stock up, and put stuff in the freezer. So, it’s a really good thing, if you're on a budget, maybe you don't want to pay the delivery fee every week, and maybe you love to eat meat, but you're not having the time to like always cook it every single day or whatever, you could just have a freezer of clean, healthy, delicious proteins or need to go in your freezer and you can make your science to go with it. [crosstalk]. I grew up on hot pockets. My mom-
Joanna: Hot pockets is the one on the phone.
Taylor: Oh my gosh, that's so funny. I literally grew up on freezer food because my mom cannot-- No, I'm serious. My mom cannot cook. Love you mom, but I grew up on freezer food and I think that might have been what made me want to be a chef.
Jacquelyn: That triggered you to eat better?
Taylor: No, no, to be a chef. I just was very curious about food because it was never a thing in my house, but yeah, now, I think that not having a knowledge of food made me a little more like curious about it.
Jacquelyn: Then what was your schooling within the culinary experience?
Taylor: I actually didn't go to culinary school until I was 23 years old. I started out. I wanted to be in the fashion industry. I loved clothes.
Jacquelyn: I get that vibe from you. [crosstalk].
Taylor: I wanted to be in the fashion, I was really girly and I liked that. I got burnt out on it, not because it's not a great career, but it just wasn't for me, and I've always been interested in food. My husband was the one that actually convinced me to go to culinary school because I used to cook for him to like impress him and things. I didn't have a lot of money at the time. So, I'd be like, “Hey, I'm going to make you X, Y, and Z for dinner, and like won’t you come over?” That really works for him.
Jacquelyn: So, what people can do with your meal plans is just pretend that [crosstalk]. Just take them out..
Taylor: Take everything out, put on a plate, invite your man over and be like, [crosstalk]. It is homey. You listen to me kid, but, I went to Orange Course College which isn't like, when you think of culinary schools, people are like, art institute, [Lockwood 00:11:02] on blue, which, I'm not knocking those programs. They are great programs, but they're very expensive and I had to pay my way through school.
So, I went to OCC, I was able to graduate without any debt. I was able to make my way through, and I actually think it really is a better program. A lot of the things that I learned at school, I talk to other people that went to other schools and they didn't learn those things. They don't have knowledge of purchasing, they don't have knowledge of restaurant management or like [Garmo J] which is like fancy French terms. They’re like how to preserve things, can things, hdyrate things. These are all things I learned at school and I love our program cause I made so many friends, a lot of people that work for me are from my school as well and go OCC.
Joanna: That’s so fine.
Jacquelyn: I love that.
Taylor: Yeah. Local.
Jacquelyn: Yeah. Local, local OC girl.
Joanna: Well, question that we also wanted to ask you was, you obviously have a huge menu, but what is your favorite, if you had to choose? I know that's a tough one.
Taylor: It is really tough, but I actually do have an answer. The Kung pao chicken.
Jacquelyn: That one's fire.
Taylor: I love it. I love it on rice. I love it on zoodles. I love it with vegetable stir fry. I love it because And it's healthy. We don't add any sugar to it. It doesn't have like soy or anything. In fact we were soy free facility, so, we only use coconut aminos which tastes just like soy source, but it's not, but that's my-- I would say Kung pao is my favorite, and I would say maybe close second. Maybe like non protein item would be maybe like, our rice stir fry’s. We have a couple different ones and I love rice, and so like rice stir fry’s. We have one that's like-
Jacquelyn: Coconut rice?
Jacquelyn: I’ve never had had coconut rice before. It's so good.
Taylor: It's literally rice and coconut.
Jacquelyn: I loved it.
Joanna: Like what is that?
Jacquelyn: Love it.
Taylor: I'm making you guys hungry. [crosstalk]. [laughter].
Joanna: Like I want food right now, and then I know we talked about this a little bit before we went on TV, but tell us a little bit about the kitchen, and your office, and everything?
Taylor: Is super exciting. So, we used to use shared kitchen space and my garage is our storage like unit, where I have all my packaging and stuff and it was very hectic but we were fortunate enough to find a space. It was an old restaurant space. I don’t know if anybody in this area is familiar with Il Barone Restaurant. They recently relocated to a larger facility and we took over their old facility, and we're going to have it open-
Jacquelyn: It’s in [Costa Mesa 00:13:40], right?
Taylor: It's actually in Newport technically, but it's right by the airport. So, it's like, campus and dove. Literally we hear, the plane's going over us and that's totally fine because it doesn't bother me. Usually it's really loud in the kitchen. You can't even hear it anyways.
We're going to be open there very soon for special events and stuff. We're not really open to the public like a restaurant. It really is just a facility for us to make our food and have an office space and all that stuff, but we do have a very nice, like 35 person dining room, that it's all decorated and ready to go, and when we feel like it's ready, we're going to open that up to people to host events, birthday parties, bridal showers et cetera. [crosstalk].
Jacquelyn: We’ll tell each other like, “We’re going to have an event there.”
Taylor: Yeah, I know. Any kind of cool stuff like that. The first event will be our grand opening, and so we'll invite all of our special people. Want to invite over special people, other vendors that have helped us with certain things and it'll kind of be like our kickoff to our catering and event hosting part of our business which will be exciting.
Joanna: That’s so exciting.
Taylor: I know it's really-
Jacquelyn: Well, congratulations.
Taylor: Thank you.
Jacquelyn: New baby, new location [crosstalk].
Taylor: Oh my gosh. I have to tell you I feel like I birthed a baby, Taylor Made Cuisine, and now I'm going to birth another baby.
Joanna: Quite literally.
Taylor: Quite literally, and actual female baby, and that will be a totally different thing. I'm going to have her like him or her. I think it's a her, but you know, him or her strapped to my back while I'm like stirring stuff. Hopefully not that much, but that's kind of what I envisioned.
Jacquelyn: Then your husband, he runs the business with you?
Jacquelyn: What’s his role?
Joanna: He’s adorable.
Jacquelyn: He is the cutest.
Joanna: He drops food.
Taylor: Mike is a very hard worker. He actually does a lot more than I do. He runs like the business side of things. So, he does like all of our purchasing. [crosstalk]. He handles our bills. He handles like our drivers, and our delivery routes and like anything that's not food related, as far as like actual producing of our menu items, he pretty much does that.
So, I would say he's a man of many talents. He wears many hats. He's taken-- He needs like five assistants, but he's a perfectionist. I think he likes to do a lot of things himself and we're very lucky to have them to be honest.
Joanna: You mentioned something about a restaurant that your kitchen is not a restaurant right now, but in the future, do you see yourself over opening up one?
Taylor: I have some ideas. They're not necessarily healthy ideas. I've had this one particular idea for like ever and ever-
Jacquelyn: I think I heard the rain. I’m going to close this.
Taylor: It's starting to rain real hard, but we need it, right? I have this one particular idea for like five years. At first, my husband's like, “We're not doing that,” and I think it was just because he really needed to see that, like, whatever I do, I'm like good at it. Not to be like I'm full of myself. I'm just a hard worker, and like-
Jacquelyn: She’s good at it.
Taylor: I have good people working with me and like, I'm very-- I'm just a go getter, and this one particular idea, it's like bar food, but like upscale, like [go may bar food], and like very, very good craft cocktails.
Jacquelyn: I love it.
Taylor: I want to call it the Junk Yard. [crosstalk] Nobody steals this idea because honestly, even if you did, you wouldn't do it as good as I will.
Jacquelyn: You win.
Joanna: We haven't fully document it.
Jacquelyn: Yeah. Sue your ass.
Taylor: Oh my gosh, but that's kind of my dream. I want to have a bar. I know, it's like crazy. Everybody says don't do that, but everybody told me not to do this and everybody told me that starting a business was crazy and I did it anyway.
Joanna: Haters guy.
Taylor: I guess. I don't think it's that, I just think people are scared to do things in their own lives. So, they project that on to you, and I've never been a scared person. I'm always been like a leap into things person, and I think that that works for me, but it doesn't work for everyone.
So, yes I have many ideas for restaurants. I don't think it'll necessarily be connected to Taylor made cuisine and like what we do with our meal prep and stuff. I think that will always be its own thing.
Jacquelyn: Yeah. Cause it's a little bit different realms, but that's exciting.
Taylor: Yeah. I just liked to do different things I think is my thing is like, I like to be challenged, and I like to be creative, and I like to come up with new ideas. So, for me it's like, I think I get bored with the idea of doing the same thing forever. So, diversifying and having different things, different ideas and the-- What is it?
Jacquelyn: Like you said, this one kind of fell into your lap. So, you never know what's going to happen.
Taylor: Exactly, and I'm open to whatever the universe has in store for us. I think that opportunities present themselves to you, and my biggest piece of advice to people is to not be closed off to possibilities of things, just because it wasn't exactly what you had in mind.
Jacquelyn: I love that.
Joanna: Yeah, me too. What has been your biggest screw up in the kitchen?
Jacquelyn: Oh, that's a good one.
Taylor: You know, there's been so many, and it's like you just have to roll with the flow sometimes. Sometimes you just burn the crap out of something. You didn't start all over like-
Jacquelyn: Good. So professional chefs do that too?
Jacquelyn: Good to know.
Taylor: When you have great things going at once, and then somebody calls you on the phone. I’m a business owner. So, it's like people call me and I have to take these calls, and I forgot that I had brittle, or granola, or something in the oven and our ovens are very high powered and they work very well, and so if you leave something in there for just a couple of minutes too long, you pull it out. It's really really charred.
So, that happens regularly. It's not something that shuts everything down and it's not like the biggest like [boo boo 00:19:30] of all time. I will say that like maybe four weeks, yeah, four weeks ago, our very first delivery in the new space, Mike, sliced the freak out of his hand.
Jacquelyn: Oh, my Gosh, I saw that.
Taylor: Yeah. That's not really my mistake, but it is his mistake, but it halted everything. Everybody's food was delivered super late. We felt so bad, but luckily, all of our customers are like really decent human beings and they were all so nice about it, but he was freaking out.
Literally, my assistant, she had like the flat top full of kale, and my assistant is like flipping kale, and she says, “Hey Mike, look what I'm doing.” She starts like dancing and he's cutting cauliflower. He looks at her and continues to-- So, he just, went all the way to the bone, like he had stitches. It was crazy. He was so upset. We were all so upset, but he's all better now, and it's all good, and he learned a very important lesson that you don't look one direction and cut in another.
Jacquelyn: I think you answered all the questions that we have. Is there anything else that you want to tell people who might be on the cusp as far as deciding whether they want to commit to a meal plan service? Because with a meal plan, you are paying a little bit more money rather than just buying groceries, but it is a lot easier for your lifestyle. So, what would you say is the reason they should choose your service?
Taylor: So, one of the things I've heard from our customers about shopping at the grocery store versus like ordering our food is that, a lot of times they go to the grocery store and they buy food and it goes to waste. You don't necessarily need everything that you're getting or you don't need all of what you're getting, but they only sell it in a certain amount, and that money is now going down the drain.
When you order our food, you mentioned earlier that it can be frozen. A lot of our things can be saved for another time. So, if things come up in your life, which they do, you can save your food, and you can put it in the freezer, and you can save it for another day. That's money that you're saving.
In addition, everything is like individually portioned for you. So, you're getting the right amount of food for you. So, you're not wasting food, you're not wasting stuff, which I always feel super bad about, even in my own life, like I don't want to waste food. I feel bad. Not only did I spend money on this, but now it's just like going in the trash can. So, it's a waste, and a waste, and a waste.
In addition to that, we don't just do meal plans. We don't back you into a commitment of X amount of meals per week. We also let you order by item on our website. So, when you go onto our website, you'll see the meal plans, but then when you scroll down, you'll see all of our items are then organized by type. So, we'll have breakfasts, soups, proteins, starches, vegetables, snacks, desserts, et cetera, and you can select however much or what items you want yourself.
So, it gives you a lot of control over what you're getting, if that's what you choose. So, I think that what we bring to the table that's different, is that we give you lots of options. We take your feedback into consideration and we build things just for you. We are real people and we're here to make your life easier and also to give you customer service and make you feel like, yeah, somebody really curious about what you're eating and what your life is like.