Durham Magazine August/September 2022

Page 94

durham inc.


More people cooked in their own kitchens during the pandemic, but it also increased demand for at-home meal services

BY S H A N E S N I D E R | P H O T O G R A P H Y BY L A U R E N V. A L L E N


he concept of personal chefs during prepandemic life wafted an air of indulgence. But as COVID-19 stifled even our most menial activities (relegating grocery shopping to an exercise in fear and paranoia), we’ve developed a taste for delivered convenience beyond an iPhone-hailed pizza. Local caterers and restaurants have benefited, and outfits offering at-home meal service for casual and higher end fare are still feasting on a market boom. According to McKinsey & Company, the global food delivery market boiled over during the pandemic, with a gluttonous $150 billion revenue haul in 2021 (more than tripling since 2017). Even with inflation pinching pocketbooks, it seems the athome meal market is holding steady (for now, at least). Considering the anecdotal evidence laid out locally, our appetite for catered cuisine is no passing fad.





Meal delivery and catering company Redstart Foods launched a web store in 2020 and moved into its own brickand-mortar in early 2022.

Caterers used the concept of at-home personal deliveries to address the drought in events during that first year of COVID-19 and to bridge the revenue gap while waiting for federal loans for much-needed financial respite. Still, many Durham businesses have kept the personal delivery option even as event business

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returns. And they say demand is still strong for prepared meals.

SERVING UP A NEW NORMAL Matt Northrup’s pre-pandemic future was pretty bright. His Redstart Foods operation, which began in 2015 as a private chef service, had a budding new catering business

with a client roster that included the Durham Bulls and many more. When COVID-19 reared its ugly head, he feared the worst. “The pandemic hit, and all the catering business dried up,” he said. “I was really worried.” Things seemed to only worsen in the short term. Fear began to settle in as clients