The founders of Me Sous have devised a way to solve the dilemma facing New York eateries that need customers but can’t allow any inside due to COVID-19 restrictions: Bring the restaurant experience to people’s homes.
Driven by a strong passion for food coupled with a desire to help an industry reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, Phil Toronto and his “ragtag group, essentially kind of like the Power Rangers” are delivering grocery boxes curated by New York City chefs to homebound consumers all throughout the five boroughs.
“Me Sous was born to thread 2 experiences together: the connective experience of dining out that we’re all sorely missing with the personal triumphs of a homemade meal,” its website reads.
To do so, Toronto and his chief experience engineer, Jameson Brown, seek out chefs from around the city and hire them to create recipes that are typically never seen on their menus.
“We ask them, ‘hey, what’s a fun meal that you would like to make at home or for a family meal,'” Toronto said.
It could even be anything that they like to cook for themselves outside of the restaurant, he added.
A bio of each chef and their restaurant comes with each box, which Toronto hopes will help to “drive people into the restaurant to try their signature dishes themselves,” once the virus is under control and restrictions ease.
The boxes themselves are filled with enough proteins, spices and farm-fresh produce that derive from the same farms and purveyors that supply their restaurants, he says.
Overall, the boxes have enough for two servings of three recipes, in order to recreate a shared meal experience.
And although the boxes come with recipe suggestions, they are designed to give consumers more “freedom to kind of do your own thing,” if they want to take that route, he said.
Me Sous has already collaborated with several area chefs from Sarah Krathen and Dria Atencio of l’ito’s and Wilson Tang of Nom Wah to Martin Brock, the head of culinary at Blue Ribbon, and they have no plans on slowing down.
While their mission is to help diners and the city’s chefs reconnect, Toronto says his team also wanted to find a way to help drive funds directly into the hospitality industry, which he says works so diligently to serve the public.
They take a portion of the profits from each box and donate it to two nonprofits: the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation (RWCF) and the Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants (ROAR).
“We just saw a bunch of the GoFundMe campaign popping up to help restaurants and that just it’s not a scalable solution,” he said.
Rather, they wanted to steer funds differently toward the industry, which they say has been all the more satisfying.
“I’ve long had a love to be of service to others,” Brown said. “And to be able to serve my fellow members of the hospitality community in a way that has not been done yet is one of the most satisfying things I’ve done to date.”
Aside from donating a portion of the profits, Me Sous also pays its chefs upfront for their recipes and gives them a portion of the profits from their curated boxes.
By February, the company hopes to expand its reach nationwide.