On Monday, Slashfood ran a trend post of sorts about the recent explosion of “make-and-take” restaurant/shops, including two new stores near writer Jonathan Forester’s upstate New York home. Basically these stores—like Let’s Dish!, the franchise operation that Forester is considering buying into—provide recipes, kitchen space, equipment, and pre-prepped ingredients. The customer just shows up, throws a bunch of chopped-up food and a few spices together in a disposable aluminum pan, does some minimal precooking, then wraps her finished pile of meals and takes them home to freeze or refrigerate for later use. Oh, and it’s always “her” pile in these places, apparently—there’s nary a man in sight in any of the promo material.

There is something incredibly appealing about the idea of having your own prep cook and not having a mess to clean up after a few hours in the kitchen. But how worth it is the whole thing when the “pre-prepped” ingredients include baby carrots, sliced mushrooms, and what appears to be cold-cut meat (all of which are sold in those exact same states of “preppedness” at any supermarket)? As Slashfood commenter Kate points out, it’s likely to be a passing fad:

I would think the people who loves[sic] these clubs the most—are groups of girlfriends who are eager to try something new for awhile[sic], hoot it up on Lasagne Making Night, but seldom become long-term customers.

I’d give one of these places a try for novelty’s sake, though I have a feeling my girlfriends and I already get a much bigger hoot out of our monthly sessions cooking at one of our apartments with ingredients we’ve bought together. Also, the idea that customers are cycling through the same kitchen all day long, pulling their ingredients from the same bins, grosses me out a little bit, and I’m not even much of a germaphobe. I’m sure they have some fairly strict cleanliness rules in place at these stores, but there’s at least as much of a chance that somebody snotted in the olive bin as there is at any salad bar—and I feel like if I’m eating a “home-cooked” meal, I want to know that any hair I find in my food belongs to me or someone I love. Maybe that’s just me?

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