Wholesome Residing Market Launches Chef-Oriented Meals Program
Photo courtesy Luke Awtry Photography
Healthy Living Market and Cafe (HLM) is shaking up the food service retailing and removing the concept of the “grocer.” With its recently launched HL Fresh, a homemade, seasonal grocery program designed and led by Chef and VP of Culinary Matthew Jennings “Emerged. As a nominee for the James Beard Award and a former competitor at the Food Network’s Iron Chef Showdown, Jennings has filled HLM’s kitchens with other former restaurant chefs, including the one in Burlington, Vt. Family-owned resident grocer, brought fresh talent and a new culinary perspective.
HLM, one of WGB’s Remarkable Independent Grocers 2021, has created the new VP role for Jennings “to lead her through a new era of home-made groceries for retail,” said the chef, whose vision is to bring food service to the Taking retail to a new level.
“We put more emphasis on seasonality and focus on techniques that are normally not found in the food sector. We also have a strong innovation program in which we not only follow trends, but create them. And we have phenomenal chefs on the team, ”said Jennings, who most recently hired a Michelin-starred chef.
While Some retailers rely on food made in huge co-pack facilities or using pre-made ingredients. HL Fresh is made in-store by talented chefs who get creative every day to create new dishes and forge partnerships with small local producers, Jennings explained.
“Our mission at Healthy Living is to be the place where people gather to shop, eat and work,” said co-owner Nina Lesser-Goldsmith. “Our incredibly talented and experienced cooking team created HL Fresh with this in mind and created restaurant-quality take-away dishes with high-quality, complete ingredients. The quality and innovation in the ready-to-eat offerings that we offer with HL Fresh are not available in other US grocery stores. ”
Jennings has strategically hired a team of chefs, each with a different specialty. For example, the Williston, Vt. Market chef specializes in meat and develops a home-cooked grill program, while another Healthy Living chef specializes in Middle Eastern, vegetable-rich farm-style cooking. All chefs are encouraged to bring their unique ideas and skills to the highly collaborative work.
And with the pandemic continuing to restrict eating in restaurants across much of the country, it is an opportune time to attract talent to the grocery trade. Jennings has hired chefs who are used to working 80-hour weeks, ready for a new challenge and a more “normal” work week. He devised a schedule in which the cooks work four 10-hour days and three days off.
HLM currently operates three stores: two in Vermont and a third in Saratoga, NY. A fourth store is under construction in Shelburne, Vt. And a fifth, undisclosed location is in the works. But as CEO Eli Lesser-Goldsmith said WGB In November, Healthy Living’s growth plans for the years ahead are “sustainable but aggressive”. This growth also includes the grocer’s culinary team, which has a chef in every store.
Jennings described the seasonal HL Fresh program as “calendar driven” with offerings such as breakfast sandwiches, ready-made meals, sandwich menus, made-to-order salads and ready-made meals. Planned expansions include the continued growth of the ready-made meals program; Gastronomy; a return of the bar for hot meals; advanced home cooking options, including pre-marinated meat and vegetables; and a la carte cooking.
“A la carte is confusing for grocers,” admitted Jennings, who insisted that Healthy Living’s newest store include a walk-in service window for prepared food. Like the hot new restaurant in town with a line that runs around the block, the food service window is all about the buzz factor. “That excites the guests and the team is interested in what we do,” he said.
Jennings plans to introduce storytelling and a marketing mentality centered around homemade food throughout the business, including the aisles. HLM has started roasting its own coffee and is working with one of its pickled chefs to bring homemade pickles, jams and jellies to its stores.
“Food is firmly anchored in politics,” said the chef. “I don’t knock on it, but there is also an opportunity to shake things up – to do something disruptive and unusual. Give the customer an experience and you will take it from boring grocery shopping to overwhelming. ”
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