A new food business


Cooking, something we have to do but sometimes wish we did not. Perhaps we do not like to cook or the time is limited. Then it is easy to buy something like fast food, or put something in the micro. But what if someone else did the cooking for you and you know it would be both tasty and healthy? Would that not be great? If you live in Sydney, Australia, you can buy your meals from The Dinner Ladies. Find out more about them and also how it all begun.

Name: Sophie Gilliatt 

Age: 51

Occupation: Co-founder and owner of the Dinner Ladies, a home-delivered dinner service

Family: Husband Tom, three children: Fred (21), Rosy (18) and Jo (13)

Lives in: Bronte, Sydney, Australia

The Dinner Ladies, what is that and how did it all begin?

The Dinner Ladies is a home-delivered dinner service run by myself (right on the photo) and my colleague Katherine Westwood. Unlike meal kit services, we do all the prep and (usually) cooking here in our kitchens and deliver dinners ready to heat and eat. Our customers are ordinary, busy people who love and value good food and the sense of community that comers from gathering around a table - they just don't have time to cook!

Our business had very humble beginnings - in my business partner's backyard shed. We cooked two dishes - a pie and a curry - and delivered them for free to ten family members and friends. The following week we emailed them with the next week's menu - but this time they had to pay for it!

We now have about eight new dishes a week and 60 permanently available "favourites" and that weekly newsletter goes out to over 40 000 people.

Could you ever have dreamt of how fast it would grow and that it would be your future work when you once started in the backyard?

Maybe not immediately but it was soon very clear we were onto something. It was early days for this industry but everyone immediately understood the concept and said, "Ooh, I could do with that". We didn't grow too quickly in the first couple of years while our youngest children were still babies and toddlers but once they were at school, we never looked back!

Your food is inspired from many different countries although the base is Australian and the ingredients come from nearby. What new tastes and dishes have you discovered that you would not want to be without now?

Australia is such a melting pot of nationalities and that's reflected in the way we eat. There is no one "Australian" cuisine - in any week, most of us will eat Thai, Italian, Vietnamese, Indian, Mexican ...

Probably the biggest trend that we're seeing at the moment is a demand for generally healthy wholefoods and a demand for more plant-based food. Personally, I've just come back from a trip to Mexico and the food was amazing - I'm going to try to replicate a lot of those fresh, fabulous flavours for our customers.

So, what do you think the future holds for you?

World domination! Not really, but we are still so excited by what we do and so thrilled when we hear from customers about the difference we make to their lives. We'd love to be delivering our food across Australia - and we think we can do it!


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