How a school gates friendship sparked supper delivery business
- Credit: Supplied
Britain's latest meal delivery service sprang from a friendship struck up at the school gates between musician and broadcaster Myleene Klass and restaurant entrepreneur Jamie Barber.
After bemoaning the tyranny of feeding their families during lockdown - from unhealthy take-aways to complex meal kits - they co-founded My Supper Hero to deliver "exceptional suppers without the fuss".
Klass, a mum of three who lives near Golders Hill Park, said: "Jamie and I live 10 minutes away and our children have gone to school together for 10 years. Over lockdown we were both running out of meal ideas. I was trying to deal with home schooling, ordering take-outs but feeling rubbish and guilty the next day, and rotating my six failsafe recipes which became extremely uninspiring."
Klass doesn't enjoy cooking and sees it as "functional".
"Everyone knows what their role is and mine is to keep the chat going and appreciate the food. Less chopping more chatting that's what I'm about!"
Barber, who lives in Highgate and owns the Hache Burger and Cabana Brasil chains, does enjoy it but felt "kitchened out" over lockdown.
"Myleene and I both had the same issue but were coming at it from different angles. I do most of the cooking in my family, and trying to plan what we were going to eat from a fridgeful of raw ingredients, cooking, and washing up was getting me down. We all like a bit of Deliveroo, but it's quite junky, and recipe boxes were often time consuming and boring."
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While Barber brought food industry experience, Klass' priorities included generous portions, "pretty" compostable packaging - "nothing garish the neighbours can see" - and 15 minutes prep: "Nothing that involves slicing and dicing and has twelve pages of instructions".
Dishes such as Thai red curry, stilton and red onion beef pie, and coq au merlot have been developed by chefs - including Great British Menu winner Tom Anglesea - and are made in small batches with quality ingredients in Kentish Town.
All the dishes have what Barber calls "a Hackney lift" a miso glaze here, or a black garlic gratin there, to make them "interesting and and modern". The former St Anthony's and UCS pupil says: "We want to give people access to quality cooking of the kind chefs make at home, to give people a night off where they can eat brilliantly."
Klass jokes that she's ordering four times a week. "As a working mum and businesswoman I want my family to eat well but don't want to come home and have that pressure to go through reams of recipes. This is exactly what I needed, high quality nutritious food. Our kitchen is at the heart of the house and we usually have a steady stream of people. I love that experience of eating with my family or sitting around our dinner table with girlfriends. Many of us lost that overnight during lockdown and want to open our homes again. It's a lovely feeling to look forward again."
She's even got local friends Tracy-Ann Oberman and Tamzin Outhwaite to spread the news: "They are still mums who need to do what we are all doing, put dinner on the table."
Barber, a former entertainment lawyer whose clients included Roger Moore, started his first restaurant Hush in Mayfair in 1999 with Moore's son Geoffrey. It became a haunt of the likes of Bill Clinton, Victoria Beckham and Michael Caine, but My Supper Hero is is first digital food business and he's "thriving on the learning aspect."
"It's been a massive learning curve. We've tested it among the Hampstead and Highgate Community, talked to parents groups, and sent out tasting boxes. We wanted to gain a reputation locally then get it out into the world," he says.
He believes the pandemic boom in meal kits "will stick even when we return to a semblance of normality".
"That solution is still an important part of people's weekly meal cycles, you can't eat out or have Deliveroo every night. With this you eat healthily and wholesomely with a touch of style."
And the friends are full of praise for each other. "Nothing phases Jamie," says Klass admiringly, while Barber adds: "I have never known anyone who has such a massive work ethic and drive. How do you have the energy?"
"I don't sleep," laughs Klass. "And I thrive on it."
Visit www.mysupperhero.com. Supper Hero delivers UK wide and meals for two start at £33.