Rachael Ray is taking cooking for viewers one step further. She’s delivering the dishes to their door —if they live in a city like Miami.
The celebrity television chef, famous for helping viewers whip together quick dishes on her show “30 Minute Meals,” will sell made-to-order meals from her new cookbook on the Uber Eats app, starting Oct. 17.
Diners in 13 cities, including Miami, will be able to order from a full menu of dishes on Rachael Ray to Go on Uber Eats. The so-called virtual restaurant will pop up as an option if you live near one of seven commercial kitchens that will be cooking her recipes from Miami to Fort Lauderdale. Delivery will be free the first week.
“People have been asking me for years why don’t I opened a restaurant. This is my answer to that,” Ray said on the phone. “I just love the whole thing, the idea that you could branch out like this.”
Other local chefs are taking advantage of this virtual restaurant trend. James Beard award-winner Michael Schwartz, who owns Michael’s Genuine, Tigertail and Mary and Harry’s Pizzeria, has opened up an online-only deli available on all major delivery apps. Schwartz Genuine Deli sells bagels, deli sandwiches and Schwartz’s specialty pastrami by the pound exclusively for delivery, without a physical restaurant.
Hungry couch potatoes will be able to order 11 dishes from Ray’s latest cookbook, “Rachael Ray 50: Memories and Meals from a Sweet and Savory Life.” Plus 250 random orders will include a free copy of her cookbook. Her virtual restaurant will be available through the end of the year.
“It’s cool because they get to try recipes out of the cookbook, and if they like it, they can go buy one,” Ray said.
The dishes are some of Ray’s favorite, all accessible comfort food. She insisted there be a cheeseburger on the menu, as well as simple pasta dishes (bolognese with egg tagliatelle and fettuccine in vodka sauce) and vegetarian and low-carb options. Yes, the Sicilian orange and fennel salad is tossed in EVOO (her nickname for extra-virgin olive oil). Prices range from $4-$14.
Ray is the first major out-of-town chef to jump on the virtual-kitchen bandwagon using kitchens by the locally founded Reef Technology, which has been valuated as a $1 billion company. Chefs offer their recipes and farm out the cooking labor to Reef and the delivery to on-demand services like Uber Eats.
Last month, Reef announced it was selling Wynwood Yard founder Della Heiman’s Della Bowls through delivery apps while she builds out her upcoming Doral Yard.
Ray said she charged chef Andrew Kaplan, the vice president of her company’s culinary operations, with choosing dishes from her cookbook that would travel well. He tested the dishes for taste and then tasted them again after 30 minutes to see how they would arrive. Kaplan set up in a Chicago kitchen and virtually trained chefs in the other 12 cities over the computer, Ray said.