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Blue Apron is rad and all, but when the cardboard box of ingredients arrives on your stoop you still have to cook the food and clean up. A new delivery meal service founded by local couple Ariane Valle and Turner Hoff prioritizes customers’ time by delivering the food already prepared.
Vegetable + Butcher has been up and running for a little over a month and it’s currently servicing neighborhoods in two zip codes (20002 and 20003), with hopes to quickly expand their delivery radius throughout the District.
“The name is a play on our relationship,” Hoff says. Valle, who has been vegan for 10 years, represents the vegetable, while Hoff represents the butcher. There are two corresponding Vegetable + Butcher meal plans. The “Vegetable Basket” is vegan-friendly and the “Butcher’s Box” builds off of vegan-based dishes by adding meat or fish. Customers can choose to order breakfasts, lunches, or dinners in two-day, four-day, or six-day increments.
One of the most craved dishes is a lemon garlic hummus breakfast bowl with avocado, wheatgrass, carrot, white grapes, sunflower seeds, sprouts, and edamame. Another favorite is the coconut curry dal with roasted cauliflower and lamb shoulder.
If these dishes seem “chefy,” it’s because they are. Chef Matt Baker, who is readying to open Gravitas in Ivy City, dreamed up the initial slate of recipes in collaboration with registered dietician Sarah Waybright. Baker’s resume also includes minibar, Marcel’s Occidental, and City Perch.
Both Hoff and Baker are from Houston. “We found him on LinkedIn through a middle school classmate of mine,” Hoff says. “At the time he was cooking at Occidental. When we went there to sample some of his food, he created some dishes for us and we really didn’t have to meet with anyone else.” While Baker is still involved, Vegetable + Butcher has hired Christina Brown to serve as executive chef. Meals are prepared at Union Kitchen in Ivy City.
Hoff and Valle have priced meals to compete with buying groceries. They top out at $13.25 per meal. The bigger your meal plan, the lower the cost per meal. “With the quality of the ingredients we’re serving, it would be impossible to replicate on your own,” Hoff says. “Not just because we have a chef preparing the meals and a dietician approving them, but because food is expensive. We want to compete with the cost of grocery shopping, given the quality of ingredients then you account for the time it takes to shop, cook, and clean.”
Vegetable + Butcher uses pasture-raised chicken and pork, grass-fed beef, fish caught in the wild, and, whenever possible, local produce. Meals are typically in the 400-600 calorie range and the kitchen team focuses on making sure there is enough protein to fuel customers living active lifestyles. There are approximately 15 breakfasts, 15 lunches, and 15 dinners, which rotate from week to week.
The idea for Vegetable + Butcher came to Hoff when he was running out of time to track down and prepare healthy food while working and studying around the clock. “I’ve always been a fitness, nutrition geek and it was tough to maintain that lifestyle working and studying 80 hours a week,” he says of his time in graduate school at Rice University in Houston. “I moved here and found myself doing the same thing. I accepted a job in real estate finance and was getting crushed working long hours eating lunch and dinner at my desk.”
Valle comes to Vegetable + Butcher after working for Ashok Bajaj’s Knightsbridge Restaurant Group (Rasika, Bombay Club, Oval Room, Bibiana, etc.) where she too was pressed for time. The couple wants its customers to think about when they’re the busiest when deciding which meals to order.
The company is currently serving about 20 people (150 meals per week) and expects to gain clients in the New Year, when people are making their annual resolutions.
Food photos by Laura Hayes