Supper Meals delivery service

Supper Meals founder Roxanne Bras poses in the kitchen of Catering Works in Raleigh on Friday, September 8, 2017. The Catering Works team is just one of many that Bras collaborates with to deliver pre-cooked meals to clients.

“Customers have described us as a personal chef but at Panera prices.”

–Roxanne Bras, co-founder, Supper Meals meal delivery service

by Jessie Ammons
photograph by Madeline Gray

It began as wishful thinking among young professionals in 2012: A group of friends sitting in Roxanne Bras’s kitchen dreamed they could afford “having a local chef make our dinners (at home), like when our moms would make our lunches,” Bras recalls with a chuckle. She was living in Southern Pines at the time, stationed with the military and too exhausted at the end of the day to cook. Meal-delivery services like Blue Apron were emerging, but Bras says it wasn’t enough to have ingredients and a recipe delivered. “I don’t enjoy cooking, nor am I particularly good at it.”

The idea turned into a business plan, one that put the operational skills Bras had developed during her seven years in the military to work. In March 2016, she teamed with Dan Shih, a friend from graduate school who was working in technology, to found Supper Meals. After work, Bras canvassed for local chefs, and Shih built an online ordering platform and user-friendly app. Supper Meals became an immediate success, delivering pre-made meals “straight from the chefs’ kitchens to the customers’ doorsteps,” ready to be re-heated and enjoyed. Supper Meals quickly became more than a side business. Last January, Bras left the military, Shih quit his job, and they both moved to Raleigh. Here, Supper Meals hit its stride. “The thing I’ve been struck by is that everybody’s busy. That resonates. Whether it’s because they’re working, they’re chasing their toddler, whatever it is.”

Meals that range from $5 to $15 per person, cooked by local chefs including Mounir Saleh of Sassool and Cary-based personal chef Mario Huante, have found a following. Bras says her more than 1,000 weekly customers include professionals who need a few desk lunches, parents who want family dinners, and people ordering for elderly relatives. “We’re trying to make fresh, locally made meals more accessible and affordable … I feel that our customers are paying their hard-earned money for a service, and we really want to deliver.” The locavore ethos helps, too: “This is chefs feeding their communities … Somebody in Raleigh is making the food from scratch.”