Tighten your aprons; cooking just got easier with Boxed Up Chef.

Jean Khoo  |  Singapore
Published 2015-02-02 12:00:03

People purchase recipe books for many different reasons. The obvious one is that they love to cook, but some people just purely enjoy curling up in a sofa with a recipe book on their lap, looking through recipes without doing the actual cooking. Could this be because ingredient preparation takes up a lot of time? After all, who wouldn’t enjoy cooking if all the ingredients were displayed on the table, and one just had to follow the instructions and cook?

It is apparent that many people find cooking a troublesome chore. Jennifer Cheah, a former Chief Operating Officer in a manufacturing company, felt the same way too. “I always think that cooking is hard and it takes too long to prepare a dish after a long tiring day at work,” she explained. From buying ingredients to preparation, the process takes up a lot of time — often more than 30 minutes. “Cooking is supposed to be fun but looking for the correct recipes and hunting ingredients maybe a hassle,” Jennifer said.

To solve this problem, Jennifer and co-founder Yee Ling started a meal kit delivery site in Penang, Malaysia, called Boxed Up Chef (BUC). According to Jennifer, there are three co-founders in BUC, but only Yee Ling and herself are running the business full time.

The Masterminds

Before starting BUC, Jennifer was working in a manufacturing company, where she stayed for eight years. She later met Yee Ling when she was volunteering for TEDxWeldQuay. Yee Ling, who was involved in technical support, is in-charge of BUC’s web architecture and product development for the website.

Image Credit: Boxed Up Chef
Jennifer (Left), and Yee Ling (Image Credit: Boxed Up Chef)

The Idea Behind BUC

It took Jennifer and Yee Ling about six months of research and cook-testing before founding BUC, which they officially launched on 15 January this year. With BUC, you do not need to go out to purchase the ingredients for preparation. Instead, ingredients are packed fresh in a box, and are sent to your doorstep. Jennifer says, “With our meal kit, we help our customers from zero to kitchen hero.”

Image Credit: Boxed Up Chef
Image Credit: Boxed Up Chef

BUC is not just a start-up which delivers recipe kits. “We want to help to reconquer the kitchen as well as reconnect people at their dining table.  Apart from that, we want to encourage healthy eating and bring convenience to home cooking,” said Jennifer. Their ingredients are sourced from local suppliers and come directly from farmer’s markets, meaning that they are fresh upon arrival, and are cheaper.

Image Credit: Boxed Up Chef
Image Credit: Boxed Up Chef

The Obstacles

Like all start-ups, things were not smooth sailing in the beginning. While starting up BUC, Jennifer explained that finding the right suppliers for fresh ingredients, and packaging and delivery was a battle. Nevertheless, they never gave up. “How we overcome them is [to] never stop looking and [to] keep sharing our ideas with our family and friends. People connect the missing dots,” said Jennifer.

Jennifer further mentioned that when it comes to starting up your own business, don’t simply let any obstacle stop you. “No one is too old to start something new. Just put your heart and mind to it, you will be there! Put yourself together and keep pushing, then you will have the business one day,” said Jennifer.

The Product

In terms of recipes, BUC offers a mixture of Asian and Western cuisines. All ingredients come in a box and are pre-portioned to save time and reduce waste. Each recipe meal kit also comes with recipe cards in pictorial form, which are designed by Jennifer and Yee Ling.

Image Credit: Boxed Up Chef
Image Credit: Boxed Up Chef

The recipes come in three categories: Chicken, Fish, and Vegetarian. According to Jennifer, one of the most popular recipes amongst customers is the Pan-Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Feta Cheese.

Image Credit: Boxed Up Chef
Image Credit: Boxed Up Chef

One of BUC’s customers, Yasmin Bathamanathan, described that the recipe is simple and easy to follow. “From its fresh, handpicked ingredients delivered right to your doorstep to its easy to follow, step-by-step instructions, all you need to put in is some elbow grease and you have got yourself an entire meal that is restaurant-worthy prepared by you,” she said.

Image Credit: Tammy K
Image Credit: Tammy K

To-date, the website has been live for less than a month, and based on their soft launch, BUC’s customers are mostly Chinese and working adults in multinational corporations. Tammy Khoo, one of BUC’s customers, is very pleased with BUC’s service and recipes. “Wonderful things do really come in a box. It does make a person less worried about what to have for their meals and exposes their hidden skills in cooking. I love that it comes freshly packed and ingredients meticulously picked with the best selection.”

Opinions on Meal Kits Delivery Service in Penang

Jennifer firmly believes that people will eventually learn about BUC’s meal kit delivery service, despite the challenges they face as a budding start-up company in Penang.

“But being Penangite ourselves, we want to bring it to our home ground before spreading our wings further. With more awareness of eating right and healthy, we are confident that more people will eventually understand the concept of BUC’s meal kit delivery service,” said Jennifer.

In the near future, BUC is hoping to come up with recipes that are friendly for kids, as well as recipes for people with special diets such as diabetics. This is in line with their goal to encouraging healthy eating.

For people who are not motivated to cook, BUC might just be your solution. Instead of spending money eating out, why not order a meal kit and channel your inner Michelin chef?

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