When food writer Debbie Soo moved from Hong Kong to New York she missed not only foods like sukiayki, a hot pot dish, but the dining style.
“Everything would be cooked in one pot at the center of the table and everyone would come together and participate for this shared, collaborative meal,” Soo said.
It was while reminiscing about those dinners during the polar vortex of 2014 and not wanting to brave the blizzard in search of comforting hot pot dishes that she came up with the idea for the meal delivery service, Feastive.
Designed to take the stress out of hosting a dinner party for four or more, Feastive does the menu planning: you pick from one of four options, and then you receive a box kit the day of or day before your party that includes recipes and prepped ingredients. While the meal service delivery kit market is increasingly crowded, Feastive is one of the only ones focused on family-style dining. Soo designs the menu options with the idea the meals require interaction between party guests whether by hand-rolling sushi rolls, crafting sliders or creating vermicelli bowls.
I first tried Feastive on a rainy Saturday afternoon. My husband and I recently moved into a condo in the city from a house on Long Island and we were still in that moving stage where you have random boxes of things you’re not quite sure what to do with (why did we not sell or donate the weed trimmer), but we had friends visiting and Feastive seemed liked it would make hosting a meal possible without the stress of finding things such as the spiralizer. I ordered the Vietnamese Spice: Chicken Vermicelli Bowls that promised to include everything my guests and I would need to build our own bowls. The box arrived with a lovely note from Soo telling us to enjoy the weekend and giving a number to call if we had any questions.
Opening the box I found individually packaged ingredients including free-range organic chicken in a lemongrass sauce, cucumber mint slaw, carrot and daikon pickles, vermicelli noodles plus various toppings and spring rolls, green leaf lettuce and Siracha which we would start the meal with.
All of Feastive’s ingredients are sourced from a range of specialty suppliers in Brooklyn and Manhattan, local farmers markets and Asian wholesalers for some of the more difficult-to-find exotic ingredients. Recycled paper options package the dry food ingredients and the company is experimenting with different biodegradable plant-based containers for the rest of the ingredients in an effort to cut down on packaging waste.
“It is a work in progress but this issue is certainly something we are conscious of and hoping to make more sustainable,” Soo told me when I commented after the meal that I was impressed with how well the ingredients traveled to us with minimal packaging.
The directions for the meal were simple, easy and well-timed. I was relieved I didn’t need to call Soo for help and by the time our guests arrived the spring rolls were ready and we had bowls of food set up for them to create their own vermicelli bowls.
At the moment Feastive offers four menus options but Soo is hoping to introduce new meals seasonally and is working on a number of recipes including everything from other Asian-centric options to more European-style offerings.
“Our menu is tailored to direct people towards meals and recipes they may not often try out at home, eliminating safety-net recipes from the repertoire and featuring more exotic and interactive types of fare,” Soo said.
Our meal was delicious, our guests were impressed and when they left we already planning to do it again soon.
Photos courtesy of Josephine Rozman.