The burgeoning trend of chef-driven food delivery apps that's gaining major momentum on the west coast is officially happening in Chicago—with a chef that just finished working for Mario Batali. Radish, from a group that includes former Baffo executive chef David Yusefzadeh, quietly launched last week in a West Loop warehouse.
In a nutshell, the Uber-like concept delivers affordable, chef-cooked multi-course meals (most are three courses for $10 before tax and delivery; $13 after) to central locations with target delivery times within 15 minutes. It's available in the Loop, West Loop, River North, Streeterville, and Lincoln Park for now, and ownership says the delivery area will expand soon. People can sign up via the Radish website or from a referral, and the service will be available to you when your account is approved.
Once you're on the app, scroll through that night's available menu and delivery drivers equipped with "mobile ovens" that have your dishes in stock will appear. Like Uber, you will receive text messages with delivery updates and you can watch the driver on a map.
Currently available for limited dinner hours (6:30-9 p.m.), Yusefzadeh is creating nine new dishes everyday: a mix of proteins, vegetables and starches that are often made from local farm-raised ingredients. Food is cooked every hour before being sent out in cars. The app lists most ingredients and nutritional values for each item. The April 16 menu, for example, included local radishes from Epiphany Farms in charred ramp vinaigrette, ancho chicken made with Miller's Amish chicken breast, slow-roasted rosemary pork shoulder from Coleman's, and tofu with Chinese black bean sauce.
Yusefzadeh, who is a veteran of kitchens around the country, says this a segment of the industry he's been hoping to get into for a while. He responded to an ad while he was at Baffo and worked his last day in the kitchen of Eataly's fine dining restaurant roughly two weeks ago. "I was always interested in connecting people with food, but in a nontraditional way," he says. Most meal delivery apps use catering chefs and ownership believes that having a chef that comes from fine dining sets them apart.
But for now, since similar meal delivery apps are so new to Chicago, Radish's competition mostly comes from restaurants themselves and apps that deliver from multiple restaurants, such as GrubHub and Caviar. Ownership hopes their delivery speed, technology, food and nutrition will convince customers to use Radish rather than order from a restaurant when they want to stay in.