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Time to share a meal at the dinner table


Hautemealz will take the guess work out of what to serve

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Chefs Chris Renner, Maryse Blake and Perry Perkins of Tualatin prepare a sample meal of poached salmon from the many recipes they prepare for clients for $5 a month at their website hautemealz.com. The chefs prepare a weekly meal plan, and email their recipes to clients.The question on Perry Perkins’ mind is the same question that has haunted families for generations: “What’s for dinner?”

For years, Perkins said, he saw people struggle to plan a week’s worth of meals for their families that didn’t resort to fast-food drive-throughs or microwavable TV dinners.

Now, the Tualatin chef and writer has come up with a solution to the age-old query, starting his own company dedicated to answering that question once and for all.

Hautemealz, Perry’s online company, which celebrates its first anniversary this month, does that work for you.

“I don’t think it is a lack of desire to cook or a lack of enjoying cooking that is keeping people from the kitchen,” Perkins said. “I think it’s this stuff, all the planning and finding recipes. People don’t know if this works with that. We take care of it all for them.”

It’s not a unique business model. Perkins admits that a recipe for just about anything already exists online, but what is lacking is the planning.

“Anyone can get recipes for free online,” Perkins said. “But if you are trying to plan a week’s worth of meals from a few recipes, you’re going to spend $400 at the store because those recipes aren’t made to work together.”

Instead, Perkins said, Hautemealz offers up a week’s worth of recipes (complete with main courses, sides, appetizers, etc.), but does so in a way that is tailored to fit a family’s trip to the grocery store.

“One week you will have roast chicken, then later in the week, you can make soup or chicken burritos that will use the leftovers of the chicken,” he said. “So instead of going out and buying individual ingredients for seven different recipes, you can plan. The meals work together with the ingredients so it is simpler.”

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Poached salmon with rice and a green salad is one of the recipes offered at hautemealz.com.

Foodie generation

As its name suggests, Hautemealz is meant to bring a bit more sophistication to the dinner table, Perkins said. “You don’t see a lot of beef stews and casseroles with us.”

If an average family makes it through a drive-through a couple of times a week, it adds up, Perkins added. “When you pay $20 for a couple fast-food hamburgers and fries, we could have had salmon for the same price.”

Perkins’ team consists of four Portland-area chefs who tailor the week’s meals for their clientele.

They have a lighter-calorie option, as well as gluten-free and diabetic friendly meals. Perkins said they plan to offer a vegetarian option soon.

For people with diabetes or celiac disease, planning meals can become a major hassle, Perkins said.

“My dad was diagnosed with diabetes, and he went through a mourning period,” he said. “To him, that meant he was eating broiled chicken and steamed broccoli for the rest of his life, and it didn’t have to be that way.”

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Chef Maryse Blake places filets of salmon on the skillet for a poached salmon dish. Ramsey and other chefs from hautemealz.com prepare weekly meal plans and email recipes to clients for $5 a month.Teaching people with diabetes or celiac disease how to properly cook their food can help them adjust, Perkins said.

“Give them a few weeks of good tasting food that is healthy for them, and the chances of them making a lifestyle change are much, much greater,” Perkins said.

It’s also great for people who want to learn how to cook, or who enjoy their time in the kitchen, but have little time, Perkins said. “Ours is for the ‘foodie generation.’ We are for people who would love to cook more, if they had a bit more time.”

Each recipe is made with less than 10 ingredients and is ready to eat in less than 20 minutes, Perkins said. “Our big goal is to get people back around the dinner table.”

Open to anything

After a year in business, Perkins said the company has about 350 subscribers from as far away as Guam, who receive about 700 recipes a year for $5 a month.

Perkins learned the family business at an early age.

“My dad had me washing dishes since I was tall enough to reach the dishwasher,” the Tualatin chef said, sipping coffee at his “office,” a small table in a local Starbucks. “I have cooked in kitchens all my life.”

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Chef Perry Perkins of Tualatin-based hautemealz.com cooks poached salmon. Growing up as the son — and grandson — of chefs, Perkins is a lover of food, in all its forms.

“Some people get in the kitchen and stress out, but I get in a kitchen and calm down, it’s my happy place,” Perkins said. “When I have a hard day, I can’t wait until I can get home and make dinner.”

But Perkins said he found working in commercial kitchens too grueling.

“Working in a commercial kitchen is brutal,” said Perkins. “It means long hours and hard work, and your body starts breaking down when you hit 35.”

But with Hautemealz, Perkins said he has the joy of cooking (Perkins and his team personally make every dish before recommending them to customers) without the stress.

“For us, it doesn’t matter if we have 10 customers or 10,000,” Perkins said. “None of us are doing this to be Donald Trump.”

The online company also gives the team the free time to commit to local charities.

The team regularly works with the Amy Roloff Foundation, and the KOIN Local 6 toy and gift drive to cater events.

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Chef Chris Renner samples a bite of poached salmon that Perry Perkins of Tualatin prepared. Renner and Perkins are chefs with hautemealz.com.Perkins said that he wants 50 percent of the company’s proceeds each year to go to local charities to feed to needy.

“If I woke up tomorrow and money wasn’t an issue, I would still do this,” Perkins said.

Perkins would love to see his company grow to 10,000 customers eventually, and add more dietary options, such as vegetarian, kosher and Paleolithic meals.

“We are open to pretty much anything,” Perkins said.

Perkins said the company needs about 2,500 monthly subscribers to become self-sufficient.

“Everything else,” he said, “is gravy.”

For more on Perkins and Hautemealz, visit the company’s website at hautemealz.com