Garry Hollihead, Michelin-Star chef & founder of My Local Kitchen

How did the idea for My Local Kitchen come about?

The idea for My Local Kitchen was born out of a frustration that getting great food at home is still too difficult. Meal kits are good but they require effort (and washing up), restaurant delivery is often expensive and supermarket ready meals focus on shelf life rather than taste. We wanted to create a range of delicious fool-proof dishes that are simple to heat at home. We quickly realised that the best way of doing that was to prepare fresh dishes locally to not only increase quality but also the sustainability of prepared meals.

If you could describe My Local Kitchen’s ethos in a sentence or two, what would you say?

My Local Kitchen is a fresh approach in at-home dining – delicious meals delivered to your door, that are ready to just heat and serve. We aim to combine the quality and taste of meals in Michelin-starred restaurants with the comfort and convenience of dining at home.

What makes My Local Kitchen different from other meal delivery services?

Obviously that I am designing the dishes! Other than ensuring our dishes are delicious, our key difference is that we are ‘local’. We deliver straight from our kitchen to your door so we minimise on food miles and packaging required to keep food cool and food is delivered fresh so we don’t need to use preservatives. Dishes last up to two days in the fridge. We also aim to support the local communities operate in.

Who is your typical customer?

Our typical customer wants to be able to eat really great food at home but without the mess and hassle of cooking. I have noticed that lots of our customers are really good cooks, and My Local Kitchen allows them to enjoy a meal they would enjoy cooking for themselves but just don’t have the time to or want a night off from cooking but don’t want to compromise on quality.

Who cooks and prepares your meals?

I personally oversee all our production. We are currently producing in a kitchen based in the new Covent Garden market which is great for getting the freshest produce.

Do you see your dishes as order-in dinner party food or a way for busy people to eat well every day?

We have really focussed on making sure our food is of the highest quality but also convenient. That means it’s really flexible. We have requests for dinner parties, and we know from customers our food works really well for easy entertaining, but likewise, just perfect family meals which don’t require any preparation.

Do you have a favourite dish?

I love cooking with fish, so the roast cod with red wine and butternut squash risotto is a big current favourite. Cooking with Matthew Stevens Cornish fish is always a joy, having bought from Matthew for over 20 years now.

Where do you deliver? Any plans to expand?

We currently deliver to a select number of postcodes in southwest and west London, so SW6, SW13, SW14, SW15, SW19 and W4. We ran a small trial in Barnes last year and these postcodes replicate our original delivery area. We are planning to expand across all of southwest and west London soon, but customers are very welcome to email or give us a call to request delivery out of the area.

Does your menu change seasonally?

Yes, the menu will change seasonally and we have some great new dishes planned for as we move into the warmer months. A key part of our food is to use seasonal produce as much as possible. It’s a win, win for producing dishes that are fresher and more sustainable in terms of food supply.

Do you have a favourite restaurant or pub in west London?

I think it’s vitally important to support our local restaurants and Chez Bruce on Wandsworth Common is one such restaurant. I have known and supported Bruce for many years now and he always produces great food with such flair and consistency.

Do you offer options for people with different dietary requirements or allergies?

We are not offering that on our website yet, but we are very happy to. All our dishes are prepared to order so it’s easy to accommodate requests where possible.

Describe your ideal London day…

Apart from cooking my other great passion is gardening, so I love to pop along to the Royal Horticultural society at Wisely for ideas and then pick up a few plants at the nursery.

If you could eat just one meal for the rest of your life, what would you plump for?

Obviously, I am going to pick three dishes from our current spring menu. The Keen’s Cheddar Cheese Soufflé, which reflects my classical French training, followed by the Roast Cod with Red Wine and Butternut Squash Risotto as the fish is just so good from our supplier. I would follow this with the nutty textures and zing of our Blackberry and Apple Crumble to finish with some fruit after such a hearty meal.

Who is your culinary hero?

It has to be my wife, she’s a great cook and keeps us all going.

What did you do before My Local Kitchen? What do you think you’d do if you hadn’t spearheaded this?

Prior to My Local Kitchen, I was International Culinary Directory for Corinthia Hotels, having opened their first five-star operation in London in 2010. Prior to that, I opened the Embassy London, a fine dining restaurant with a nightclub that then opened in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I also partnered with Dave Stuart of Eurythmics fame to open the Marquee, a live music venue with urban dining. I also operated Michelin-starred restaurants Sutherlands, L’Escargot and Les Saveurs.

What is your favourite thing about My Local Kitchen?

Getting customer feedback and knowing that customers are really enjoying our food. We engage all our customers to get their views on our dishes, and as we are just starting up it has been great being able to put in place improvements, for example ensuring most of the dishes come in single portion sizes and also putting in place a telephone ordering service to make sure it’s easy for everyone to order and ask questions.

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