Chef and restaurateur Iliana Regan has launched a unique subscription-based meal service that delivers ramen, fried rice, and sukiyaki from Kitsune in North Center to customers. Customers will have to do some work by boiling noodles or searing pork belly, but Regan said it gives the kits a fun, interactive feel. Regan, who earned a Michelin star for her work at Elizabeth, said she wants to test the meal-delivery service out, and see if diners take to her version of to-go ramen, even though ramen purists frown upon carry outs.
Regan knows this is a niche product, but she’s excited to try something new. They’re using the “same exact recipes,” Regan said. Customers should expect similar results to what they enjoy at Kitsune, assuming they follow directions properly.
The kits can be purchased online here, and customers can email the restaurant if they have dietary restrictions. Customers living around Chicago will pay $100 per month for one meal a week that can feed two. The price covers delivery and will come with instructions. Regan’s discounting the meals to $80 for customers who buy by the end of Tuesday. They’ll will receive a shipment every Sunday, and the meals last five days. There are five Sundays in October, so Regan feels that her offer is an especially good deal.
Why is a chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant looking for an additional revenue stream? Regan said it’s a tough business right now. She’s doing a pop-up dinner series with former 42 Grams’ chef Jake Bickelhaupt at her cousin’s farm in Indiana. Bicklehaupt’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant closed earlier this year.
“It’s a super-scary time for restaurants right now, it doesn’t matter if you’re a James Beard winer or Michelin starred — it seems two stars are cursed right now in the city because every year one closes,” Regan said.
These rough times have forced Regan to try new strategies, including the meal kits. She hopes the kits will expose Kitsune to new customers and spark interest to bring diners into the restaurant. They may even include coupons in the kits to entice visits with offers like half-off drinks. The kits will also ship nationally via FedEx; the cost will fluctuate depending on where the customer lives. Regan said she got the idea from her old pierogi business, where customers in other parts of the country made frequent requests for pierogi shipments.
Besides the kits, Regan is preparing to launch her marijuana edibles line. She’s waiting on state approvals on the packaging, and hopes everything will be ready by the end of October.