Interview: Munchery

Munchery1) It is a common complaint among those who follow a gluten-free diet for medical reasons that gluten-free food is more expensive, less healthy, and less available. Why is it important for Munchery to provide healthy, convenient food?

It is important for Munchery to provide healthy and convenient food for all consumers because we want to serve everyone—including those with a variety of dietary needs. Our culinary team works together each week to create balance in the dishes on the Munchery menu—both with regard to flavor and cuisine as well as restrictions. We offer lots of nut- and dairy-free dishes as well.

2) Are your gluten-free foods free from cross-contamination, and certified gluten-free/safe for celiacs?

No. Please note that meals are prepared in a kitchen whose environment contains nuts, wheat, dairy, etc. Though best practices are used when preparing the meal, inadvertent cross-contamination may occur.

3) Aside from some of your meals being gluten-free, what other types of food intolerances can be accommodated?

Munchery can accommodate most food allergies, as a restaurant can. We frequently feature dishes that are vegan and vegetarian, dairy-free, and nut-free.

4) Does Munchery have any meals that cater to kids?

Yes! Munchery has an entire kids’ menu that is inclusive of but not limited to menu items such as breakfast pastries, vegetable spring rolls, chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, and macaroni with tomato sauce. All kids’ entrees are portioned and priced differently from adult entrees, and all nutrition facts and ingredients are available online and on packaging.

5) Sustainability and giving back are important to Munchery. Why did Munchery become involved with causes such as SF and Marin Food Bank? Did Munchery begin with the idea that it would meet certain moral responsibilities and environmental responsibilities, or did that develop later as the company evolved?

Since very early in the company’s beginning, long before our P&L allowed it, we made the decision to give back to the local communities we serve in. It’s in our DNA. [Munchery cofounder] Tri Tran is an immigrant who grew up in a poor family that was reliant on food stamps and other community aid. [Munchery cofounder] Conrad Chu spends a lot of his time with his local church helping youths. Both used to work at a company that built software to help non-profits.

Beyond our employees, our customers recognize that not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to afford a meal on a day-to-day basis. We are thrilled to be able to partner with food banks such as SF & Marin Food Bank. Now, in every city we launch and operate in, we immediately partner with its food banks and become a part of the local communities.

6) What happens at the end of the day to any leftover/unused food?

We often sell out our food toward the end of the day. But in the event that we do have any leftovers, we donate them to organizations such as Food Runners in San Francisco, who would then distribute to local food programs.

7) A “home cooked meal” is a rare commodity in some families, but we have more time than we think. Studies have shown that the average American spends hours in front of the television every single day. It seems that in some cases we value convenience around meal time as a way to maximize leisure time. In others, it’s about being efficient due to a busy work schedule. Do you think that having access to quick, convenient meals contributes to or alleviates our constant feeling of being on-the-go/never having enough hours in the day?

Our goal at Munchery is to alleviate the pressure individuals feel to spend time cooking each night. Whether dining alone or with family or friends, it allows customers to enjoy healthy and wholesome meals without the fuss of making it themselves. Plus, with our daily menus changing all the time, it’s easy to satisfy picky eaters and bring everyone to the dinner table together.

8) You’ve expanded from San Francisco to New York; any plans to expand from dinner to breakfast and lunch?

That’s definitely something we are considering.

9) Munchery’s logo looks simple, modern, and earthy. Tell me about Munchery’s food style. Are the meals complex with lots of ingredients, more minimal, or a mix?

It’s definitely a mix. Each chef is given the autonomy to cook dishes according to his or her own taste and preference. They always keep delivery in mind, knowing that the dish will be delivered slightly chilled and then reheated, but that does not affect the number of ingredients, for the most part.

We are committed to providing our customers with the best ingredients and dishes possible, at prices they can afford everyday. We abide by a strict set of quality standards (no antibiotics, pesticides, growth hormones, or preservatives) for meat, poultry, dairy, and produce. When possible, we will also source from small local purveyors, USDA certified organic and/or non-GMO farms. Our chefs craft dishes based on flavors and recipes they love and feel will resonate with our customers—whether this is using two or ten ingredients, they are always the freshest and most delicious ones available.

10) Some excellent chefs cook up Munchery’s meals. What is it about Munchery that draws them?

The Munchery kitchen is a collaborative environment where chefs can take on a challenge and really give it their all. We give our chefs very few guidelines and the infrastructure within which they can create freely. The culinary teams work together to create balance on the New York menu.

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