Feast is an app that delivers freshly made meals made with locally sourced ingredients in downtown Toronto.
Trish Magwood recently gave me a tour of the kitchen, office and studio space at 4 Gilead Place that, after housing the commisary, then café kitchens for chef Jamie Kennedy is now home to Feast, a new app-based meal delivery service. The connection between the new company Feast and Kennedy, who is considered a pioneer of the local food movement in Canada, is coincidental but significant. Magwood, who is also known for her commitment to local farmers and producers, is Feast’s Senior Vice President of Food. With her guidance, the meal delivery business is connecting with suppliers like 100km Foods and Hooked Inc. to create a transparent and wholesome alternative to the downtown food court or neighbourhood fast food delivery. All, she is very quick to emphasize, at a competitive price.
I arrive at Feast after 1:30 when lunch “service” is winding down. What that means is a fleet of bicycles and warmly (I hope!) bundled delivery people we coming in. They serve the downtown core and a pocket around Yorkville. A car dispatched from Gilead supports them, getting warm insulated bags of food to the couriers just in time. Between the delivery fleet, the tech guys managing the orders and fulfillment, the cooks in the kitchen and the business and marketing staff, Feast is bustling. About 40 people work there now, and they’re getting ready to deliver dinner in February.
Magwood is, of course more than a chef and an entrepreneur. She’s previously built a successful career in broadcasting and is the author of several cookbooks, among other pursuits. The part of Feast she is most eager to show me, or is worried I might miss, is the photography studio. Every menu item (and the menu changes daily) is photographed for the app, but so are the ingredients. “It’s about transparency,” Magwood explains: Feast customers will know exactly what’s in their dish. Sure enough, allayed across a photography table were the ingredients to one of Feasts desserts.
Like Über, Feast is an on demand app (though corporate orders of 10 or more can be booked ahead). Magwood sees it as the next step in hospitality. In the way that one might visit one’s favourite café to see what was on the (seasonal and locally sourced) menu, the idea is to check the app and order what appeals. Currently chef Curt Martin’s daily menu includes options for a soup, a sandwich, a salad, a soft drink or juice, a sweet and one more of something (usually another salad or sandwich). As when he cooked at the Harbord Room, chef Martin balances what looks good and inspiring with what’s popular, and can be reasonably sold for the target price point of around $10.
With dinner service coming on line for Febraury, and plans to increase the app’s geographic footprint, Magwood figures the Gilead kitchen will be making about 3,000 meals a day soon. Magowwd is confident about the future of the business, making sure each customer is happy and striving to improve their experience. She explains, “It is, after all, all about hospitality.”