Healthy and tasty is the motto of new Shrewsbury-business Tastebox
Joining the Shropshire foodie scene this Sunday is Tastebox, a new type of business that values health and taste equally and believes we all deserve better than bland food whilst being good to our bodies. We chatted with the owner, Taleb Said about what inspired him to open his own food-prep, delivery service and what he hopes Tastebox will be able to offer the residents of Shropshire.
Where did your passion for cooking come from?
This is actually a really hard question for me. I think growing up in a pub played a role, my Grandad would use the equipment in the pub to cook the greatest Sunday dinners and I’d always love getting involved in the behind the scenes. It’s probably why I’ve always been keen to get into the kitchen, and so when my parents would leave me home alone as a teenager, rather than getting drunk with my friends it was usually ‘want to come round and cook up something crazy?‘
Looking back, the creations we made were definitely not great, but I LOVED spending time in the kitchen creating savoury masterpieces. I also have to shout out to YouTube for playing a part too, I mean we’ve all drooled over a video of something being cooked, the difference is, I would without fail then go and cook that exact thing! So whenever I discovered a new recipe or method, I was straight to the shop to get the ingredients and that was the highlight of my day.
I think my interest in cooking also comes from the fact that I’ve always been a man of science, and I look at cooking a new recipe like an experiment. Without question, cooking uses a lot of science, and so spending a day in the kitchen for me is just applying scientific methods to create the greatest depth of flavour. It’s not just the ingredients, it’s the methods that captivates me!
What do you enjoy about cooking for others?
Honestly, I love showing people what can be done in a kitchen with a few well-practised methods. For me, it’s so worth spending 12 hours smoking meat just for the final reveal that makes people awe at how it pulls apart? Or executing the perfect carbonara that makes people realise they’ve been eating it wrong for so long? There’s something about pleasing others with the creations that I just love. It’s that feeling of community too when everybody gets together to share a meal and I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a slight aspect of enjoying showing off how well I cook a certain dish… but we won’t talk about that!
What inspired you to take your hobby and turn it into your business?
Well, I’ve been training in accountancy for a few years, which isn’t exactly the most riveting of careers. So I essentially decided to pack it in this year and give chasing the dream a go by making a career out of doing something I enjoy. I’ve always been one of those people that tend to only give it 110% if I enjoy what I’m doing, so it makes a lot more sense to at least try to do what I enjoy so I can feel fulfilled.
In my own diet, I’ve always managed to draw a perfect combination between eating healthy food that doesn’t sacrifice any taste, and yet I always see so many people eating the blandest food in an attempt to be healthy, which just doesn’t need to happen! I want to show people there is a better way to eat good and tasty food and that’s what gave me the inspiration to launch Tastebox!
Has lockdown aided or disrupted your plans to launch Tastebox?
I actually think it’s aided it. I had just left my last job at the start of lockdown, so I decided to hold off getting another job to focus on Tastebox. Admittedly, the start of lockdown wasn’t the most productive of times, however, I think all that downtime to think, and all the energy I had built up led to this creation.
Over the last few months, I’ve managed to work on the idea and really perfect it with all the spare time I had, and it almost feels like Tastebox launching is happening just as society is starting to open back up which hopefully is good timing! Although I must emphasise that the pandemic isn’t over which is why I’m making sure to take all the necessary precautions within the company to keep others safe. Remember to social distance and wear masks where possible guys!
What has the initial response to the Tastebox trial scheme been like?
It’s honestly been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve been getting so much support and amazing feedback, which I expected from my close friends, but I’ve been getting it from others around the town. The good news is the standards are only going to improve as I go forward so I’m really excited to keep building on this reaction.
Nevertheless, if you’re a customer and you’re reading this, don’t think I only want positive feedback. Communication for Tastebox as a company is really important. The company and the service it provides is being moulded around the customer’s needs, so whatever your thoughts let us know on our Instagram tasteboxuk.
How is Tastebox different from other food delivery services?
Well, of course, it differs from takeaways because it’s a meal prep service that is based around a subscription model, although individual boxes are available for order too! In terms of differentiating between other meal prep services; I’ve explored a lot of the competition and found that a lot of them seem to get the health side, but they don’t delivery the same punch of taste. I think this is largely due to them being nationwide companies supplying to huge numbers, and so their meals don’t include the same freshness we can provide as a local supplier. It also means they can’t give each meal the same attention, detail and care that Tastebox can and I think that is what will set us apart with our service.
Why have you chosen the 40/40/20 macro ratio as your nutritional guide, what are the advantages?
So aside from making sure there are a good amount of vegetables in my meals for micronutrients, I try to design the macros to be at a 40% protein, 40% carbs, and 20% fat ratio. There’s a lot of research out there on the 40/40/20 diet, so I encourage everybody to do their own research. I’ve chosen this model because its a go-to for a lot of health and gym enthusiasts and bodybuilders. In comparison to an average person’s intake, this is a high protein, average carbs, and low-fat option. Arnold Schwarzenegger popularised the model, using it throughout a lot of his career which demonstrates its results. Of course, some people alter these ratios, but 40/40/20 is a good middle ground and it means everyone who eats our meals knows they are getting their core criteria but can tweak the percentages with whatever else they eat throughout the day.
What in your opinion is the best dish on your menu?
Oh god, this is a hard question. The Lamb Curry with broccoli is definitely one to try, it’s reasonably mild but the depth and flavour that the south Indian ingredients provide really makes it one of my favourites – it’s crazy to me how few people actually use curry leaves in their cooking!
On the other hand, my favourite dish to cook is the Chicken Stir Fry with a hint of chilli, I love whacking the wok out and using those high smoky temperatures to execute a good stir fry. It’s also crazy to me how many people don’t know what it takes to make a good stir fry and then end up with a plate of soggy, sad vegetables – you all deserve better!
Who would benefit from joining Tastebox and why?
Tastebox is designed around people who live busy lifestyles, people who want to start eating healthier, or people looking to support their gym routine… or a combination of those things! If you’re in work full time, the last thing a lot of people want to do when they come home is to spend ages cooking and similarly if you’re putting a lot of time in at the gym. With what free time you have some people would just rather spend it doing anything other than cooking, but they still want high-quality food rather than bland ready meals. By using Tastebox you’ll be letting people who actually love spending their time in the kitchen take care of all that for you – it’s a win, win!
Do you cater for various diets?
So this is where I need to apologise to everyone, at the moment we don’t cater for vegetarians, gluten-free, halal and many other diets. Since we are just starting we are still a small business and we wanted to make the menu have enough immediate choice for our customers that do subscribe. I do understand that there’s not much use subscribing to us with only one or two meals that suit your diet, so I am focused on growing the business ASAP so that I can expand the menu to cater for a variety of diets and give everyone that same amount of choice. So not right now but I haven’t forgotten about you all, and you’re in the plans!
What is your philosophy at Tastebox?
We have a few!
1. Taste WITH health, not taste OR health. I see people sacrificing the one for the other so often and I want to show you that they can exist in harmony!
2. To be environmentally conscious where we can. Our meals are delivered in leak-proof paperboard reducing our countries plastic use. Fully compostable boxes are available upon request too.
3. Make our customers a priority. Our single highest priority is catering for our existing customers, we even have a cap on our meals so we can guarantee that each and every meal you receive has received the correct amount of detail, care and attention.
4. Clear communication. This builds onto the point of making our existing customer’s the priority, we want to build a rapport with our customers so as the company grows, it grows around our customers needs. Let us know your thoughts, give us feedback, and contribute to Tastebox’s future.
When is Tastebox’s launch day and are you prepared?
Sunday 12th July. After a long couple of months, I’m fully prepared, ready, and keen to start supplying Shrewsbury town with healthy tasty meals!
What is your dream for Tastebox?
To have a wide variety of happy customers who use our subscription service to improve their lifestyles and enjoy their food. That being said, let’s be real… you don’t start a business to stay poor! So when Tastebox grows, the first thing will be expanding the menu to cater to all diets, and then on to expanding geographically but of course, while never letting go of the principles that got the company started.
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