By Michelle Poirier
While most supermarkets now offer ready-made meals to go, they’re often pretty bland affairs, made with little or no passion.
That’s not the case with Chef Todd’s Kitchen, located at 297 The Queensway S in Keswick, where customers can choose from a wide selection of freshly prepared and frozen entrees with sides that are just as good as you get in a restaurant and for a fraction of the price.
When Todd Timleck, a Red Seal Chef, opened his first location in May of 2021 in a small strip mall at 200 Simcoe St, his Lobster Mac & Cheese, Jerk Chicken, and Korean Pulled Pork were instant hits.
Demand was so great he and his wife, Erika, decided to expand and move to their current location, formerly Franzisi’s Pizzaman, which offered more space and parking.
While they still offer an excellent hot table, they’ve also expanded their menu to include tasty offerings like Red Wine Braised Osso Bucco, Lemon Caper Sole and Prosciutto Truffle Wrapped Beef Wellington.
Recently, they purchased a commercial-grade smoker and now offer a wide selection of delicious smoked chicken, ribs and brisket, as well as Texas BBQ on Saturdays and Sundays.
They also sell lovely baked goods, like Portuguese tarts, chocolate chunk cookies and apple turnovers.
And the business is now providing catering services for weddings and private and corporate functions.
Timleck says it’s crucial to stay ahead of the competition, especially as more restaurants open post-pandemic.
“We’re always trying to be innovative. It’s been going very well since Covid, which was in our favour because restaurants weren’t open, but nothing lasts forever. It’s about being on your toes and being diverse,” he said.
Timleck thinks of Todd’s Kitchen as a collective of smaller businesses; it can’t run on just the hot table, prepared foods or weekend BBQ, so he does his best to cover all the bases.
He says they have incredibly loyal customers and new visitors almost every day.
But he admits they don’t fit everyone’s budget, so they do everything they can to keep prices low.
That includes using local vendors, where they can, for their produce and protein, which supports local farmers and helps them keep food fresh and food costs lower.
“By shopping local and not going to big vendors, we save a ton of money, and we pass those savings on,” he said.
One of the ways he tries to fit people’s budgets is to offer a senior’s value meal, which is a smaller portion of his high-quality prepared food at $10.00 per meal.
He says he got the idea after his mother-in-law asked him to make smaller portions.
It has become successful for them, with new customers coming in to buy the meals for their parents or grandparents and bringing exposure to the business.
Still, he admits that the profit margin on these meals is low. But that’s not why he’s doing it. He wants seniors to have access to nutritious meals that contain protein.
He says many seniors are trying to stretch their food budget by increasing carbohydrates and reducing protein, which, according to Timleck, is a mistake.
“They’re not doing it the right way. They’re eating a starch-based, high-carbohydrate diet. Your body needs a certain amount of protein and more nutritious food to stay healthy,” he said.
“If you come out of the hospital and go on a pasta diet, for example, you’re not going to recover the same way as a having a diet that includes a good amount of vegetables and a good amount of protein.”
Timleck points out that protein doesn’t just come from red meat.
“It can be quinoa or black beans; it could be legumes. There are a lot of cheaper options out there that add protein. Just make sure you include those vegetables.”
You can view the menu for Chef Todd’s Kitchen at www.facebook.com/cheftoddskitchen/menu.
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