Cooking doesn’t rock everyone’s boat and even when you love to cook, you don’t want to do it all the time. Local business, Lemon Delicious, offers pre-prepared frozen meals for the time poor, health challenged or uninspired.
Try Malaysian lamb curry, beef Bourguignon, roasted vegetable and blue cheese pie or vegetable enchiladas. Customers are spoilt for choice with at least 16 dishes available, including four new options weekly.
Meals come in single serves and there are larger meals too, like pork with rhubarb, chilli and cider, or ricotta and vegetable cannelloni. The Two Girls visited cook turned bureaucrat turned cook, Justin Meeker, to find out more about her business, Lemon Delicious, and to taste test her work.
Justin lives with partner, Roger, on their five acre property in the Channel, along with 14 chickens, Uki the dog, Bo the cat, a giant view and an even bigger commercial kitchen. Kingborough Council regs and all.
Justin is a feeder and it’s unsurprising that she has worked out an ingenious way to do what she loves best with Lemon Delicious.
“I love cooking, feeding people, and eating. I am always thinking about the next meal, even in the middle of the current one. Lemon Delicious is the perfect creative outlet for me, and potentially a life saver for you!” she says.
She started in hospitality and hotel management and has spent a career dipping in and out of the industry. She was cooking in a nursing home when she met the sister of Pamela Clark, Women’s Weekly food editor, and it was not long until she was doing time in the magazine’s test kitchen. When she returned to Tasmania about 20 years ago, she worked for a while at Kingston’s Welcome Inn.
She changed career and spent years employed by the State Government. Wanting to keep her hand in hospitality, six years ago she and Roger bought the food van business, Gypsy Rolls. Bureaucrat on weekdays and Salamanca market regular on Saturdays.
In late 2016, looking down the barrel of another 10 years in the public service she took a redundancy and ran, devising the idea of Lemon Delicious.
“The Lemon Delicious mission is simple – to provide you with great tasting, nutrient dense meals – as unprocessed and fresh as they can be – so you and your family can eat healthy food even when you aren’t able to cook it for yourself,” she says.
She’s a lemon freak and ironically, hasn’t been great at growing them, and so Lemon Delicious seemed the right name for a business that would nourish others and reflect Justin’s optimism.
Meals are trialled and tested. When she began she had a group of 20 people who volunteered to taste test for her, choosing three out of six meals for four weeks (hands up in the air for next time). This helped work out what reheated best in the microwave or the oven, what might be popular and what might be not so much.
She tells us about the nondescript dish that Roger proclaimed to be some sort of Thai fish cakes. “No darling, it’s pork.”
Or the chermoula chicken, she had on offer at one of their Taste of Tasmania stints, nobody was game to try. “It was delicious!”
Tip: In case you ever see it on a menu and you’re too afraid to ask – it’s a Middle Easter marinade with garlic, cumin, coriander, lemon juice, and other ingredients based on regional variations and it is delicious.
We’re more than a little bit in awe as we get the grand tour of the property including both her awesome kitchens. What are her favourite play things in the commercial kitchen? The commercial combination oven and her plastic container sealer.
Justin refers to Roger’s folks who are in their nineties. They don’t want to have to do the cooking thing anymore. Ageing people are a definite demographic for the pre-prepared frozen meals. A gift card might be the most helpful present you could give a friend with a new baby. And Justin’s former colleagues working long hours are benefiting from having a few healthy and tasty meals in the freezer.
Justin prepared lunch for us inspired by an Israeli chef, Michael Solomonov. We ate fried lentils with garlic, mushrooms, broccoli and tahini and a date and walnut puree with haloumi and an apple slaw. We finished the absolutely delicious meal with an old-fashioned dessert, a lemon and passionfruit posset, a refreshing, soft set cream and yoghurt combination.
Justin says that Lemon Delicious is ‘ordinary food’ but after having her lunch we find that hard to believe. She’s a creative cook, taking pride in what she does. She says, ‘There’s no yucky stuff’ and she also says she bases her menu planning on what is available ‘I like playing mystery box.’
She’s working up an adjunct to the business. Wanting people to be self-supportive, she’s planning a new experience where small groups will come to her kitchen and learn to cook eight dishes, package them up and take them home. She likes the idea that people can learn skills, feed themselves and have a social outing to boot.
Keep an eye on her online presence for more to come on the group cook up and in the meantime why not have a look at the pre-prepared meals she has to offer?
The storm clouds were rolling up the Channel as we left Justin and Roger and a pile of dirty dishes with contented tummies to her only lament, ‘I thought doing the cooking would get be out of doing the dishes…’
Find out more about Lemon Delicious here. Or email Justin at firstname.lastname@example.org