Wednesday, April 2, 2008

El Matbakh’ brings the kitchen to your doorstep or desk

Guess, what I found while surfing the Net? Its definitely sounds worth a try.... will try and find the telephone number, though it would appear that Maadi residents will have to wait a little longer to be able to use this service!

El Matbakh’ brings the kitchen to your doorstep or desk
By Anna Woolfolk
First Published: March 14, 2008

Personal chef delivery services, home-meal replacement companies, and prepared-meals from the grocery store for home consumption — do you ever feel like you need a degree in economics or engineering to feed yourself properly these days?

How many cups of orange vegetables do I need today? And teaspoons of oil? I’m too confused to eat anything! I’ll just get another McDonald’s combo.

It may seem silly, but isn’t this basically how it goes? We know it’s wrong, but stressed by work and enveloped by hunger we give in and pick the same old delivery we’re familiar with, even the same combo number. If we splurge on a restaurant, how often does your order arrive wrong, cold, and/or incomplete? Still we eat what we’ve bought.

In addition to the feeling of subsequent satisfaction, we feel guilty for neglecting our health further by spending the day plopped behind a desk.

Thus — in the midst of fad diets, carbs this and saturated fats that — meals freshly prepared using real ingredients are the best bet for staying healthy (as if you didn’t already know this as well).

Of course “freshly prepared” doesn’t mean freshly defrosted or unpacked items from a corporate truck; even if the invisible coat of chemicals gives the illusion that the item is quality, it isn’t. A healthy meal consists of fresh, local produce that has been cleaned, cut, seasoned and cooked in a real kitchen not far from where you will be eating it. For the business crowd, this is a critical obstacle in trying to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

After the office all day and then subsequent Cairo traffic, who has time to spend in the kitchen, or ‘El Matbakh’ in Arabic, to make real food? Underused in today’s world of workingwomen, take-out, delivery, microwave ovens, and chemistry labs, the kitchen needs a revival.

Here comes the plug.

A team has been capitalizing on the missing link in Cairo’s food delivery culture, under the name of El Matbakh. The company prepares two homemade meal options each day for clients and delivers the orders complete with bread, a salad and dessert. You get a square meal in a nifty square box for about LE 48.

It’s slightly pricier than your average fast food restaurant, but it’s food of a much higher quality, cooked in a proper kitchen. There’s really no comparison, and not too many better options. Because of the focus on delivery alone and the decision to have only two entrées offered each day, El Matbakh is able to do something unique.

“There is nothing that we outsource,” says co-owner Heba Jammal. “We prefer doing so in order to keep a tight control on quality.”

Tarek Khaddaj, Heba’s husband and partner, has 15 years of experience in the food and beverage industry. He is also the one with the culinary skills in the marriage, making the enterprise all that more contemporary. Heba takes care of all the managerial and marketing responsibilities while the men, Tarek and Chef Simon Nehmi plan and execute an ever-varying menu. And they do it well.

On the day we decided to partake in the El Matbakh experience, we ordered fish curry that came in fashionable packaging with everything one would need to immediately start dining. What was more than the obvious thought that went into the packaging was, of course, the taste. It was like mom had sent me to work with an impressive packed lunch.
A couple of boneless sea bass filets piled over a bed of basmati rice seasoned with curry, raisins and apples was happily devoured. The salad was just as flavorful too — tomato and cucumbers in a lemon and mint dressing. Even the crème caramel dessert was enjoyed by a friend who doesn’t prefer custard-like sweet courses.

Living the average Cairo delivery lifestyle, we were obviously real-food-deprived.
El Matbakh is located in Agouza and ensures a half hour delivery time to Zamalek, Giza, Downtown, Cornish el Nile, Garden City, Mohandiseen, Dokki and El Manial, six days a week between 9 am and 7 pm. They accommodate all sorts of catering situations and in the wake of all their new success are ready to expand their operations with more kitchens.

Apparently we are not the only ones who have discovered El Matbakh


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