Thursday, December 3, 2020
Dec. 3, 2020

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Food & Drink: Perfect Dish delivers freshly cooked meals

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Shelene Rice, co-owner of Perfect Dish Kitchen in Vancouver, grills vegetables.
Shelene Rice, co-owner of Perfect Dish Kitchen in Vancouver, grills vegetables. Photo Gallery

Getting a meal on the table every day can be a challenge, even for someone who likes to cook. There seems to be some law of the universe that siblings can’t like the same food. There’s also the complication of catering to various diets and preferences — paleo, vegan, keto, vegetarian and gluten-free, to name a few.

Shelene Rice and Marilyn Roseburrough, co-owners of Perfect Dish, are here to help. Their business prepares and delivers meals to be reheated and consumed at home.

These working moms met as vendors at the Vancouver Farmers Market. Roseburrough’s daughter brought the women together by eating bread samples from Rice’s Navidi Olive Oil booth, located directly across from Roseburrough’s space. Roseburrough had a gluten-free mix company (Kember’s) and a food prep and delivery business (Perfect Dish). When one of her regular meal delivery customers advised her to expand the business and find a partner, she immediately thought of Rice.

Rice received culinary training at Western Culinary Institute — Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts (now Oregon Culinary Institute). She worked at Huber’s, Caprial’s Bistro and Grand Central Bakery. She explained, “I worked in restaurants, but the restaurant life isn’t for mothers.” She also was the cook at school cafeterias in Tigard, Ore. “I was the lunch lady for years,” she said. “I loved it.”

Rice and Roseburrough have different temperaments and skill sets that meld to form the perfect team. For their customers, the process starts with signing up on their website. It isn’t a subscription and customers aren’t obligated to buy anything. Customers receive a menu every Tuesday and orders — which must total $60 or more — must be placed by the end of the day on Thursday. Delivery is free for places in Vancouver; other areas (Camas, Hockinson, Portland) have an address-based delivery fee.

Every Sunday, the women shop for fresh food, cook it, cool it and then deliver it to houses and businesses on Monday. Popular menu items include comfort food like chicken pot pie or mac-and-cheese with smoked chicken. There are also vegan options and healthy soups and salads with housemade dressing. Customers order per serving, so each person at the table — even in large groups of family or co-workers — can enjoy something that satisfies them. Meals arrive fully cooked and cooled. Cooking instructions are found on a label on the delivery containers. Meals typically need to be microwaved for two to three minutes in the containers provided by Perfect Dish.

Perfect Dish is more expensive than other meal delivery plans like Hello Fresh, Plated and Blue Apron, which cost $8 to $12 per person per meal. Perfect Dish entrees with two sides are $16 to $19 per serving. Family-friendly dishes are $12 per serving. Soups are $10 to $12 per serving. Large salads with protein are $14 per serving. Side salads are $8 per serving.

The owners of Perfect Dish see their service as different from other plans that take orders online and deliver food through the mail. “It’s not like Hello Fresh,” explained Roseburrough. “It’s fresh, whole food, and when you’re mailing something, that can’t be the case. Also, it’s really healthy. The biggest difference is the relationships. We have strong relationships with a lot of our clients because it’s an intimate thing happening when you cook for someone. We want to love and care for them and we do that through food so the relationship is there.”

Another difference is that orders are emailed directly to Rice and Roseburrough, who cook the food themselves, allowing diners to customize their orders. If someone doesn’t like cilantro, they’ll omit it. If the order is for a dinner party, they can make larger portions. If there are dietary restrictions, they will work with that client to make food that is nourishing and enjoyable. In addition, there aren’t any pans, pots or dishes to wash. After eating, you just have some dirty silverware to place in the dishwasher.

Rice and Roseburrough personally deliver the meals, allowing them to get to know their clients. (If you don’t want to talk, meals can be dropped off without any conversation.) Perfect Dish also recently moved into a commercial kitchen, so customers can pick up their orders. They are considering teaching cooking classes and hope to rent out the space to other small food business owners.

I signed up on the Perfect Dish website and got an email listing 15 available menu items, including six vegan dishes. I ordered the chicken pesto lasagna roll-ups. Every entree comes with two sides. I chose prosciutto wrapped asparagus and butternut squash risotto. I also ordered beef braciole and vegan zucchini roll-ups with creamy artichoke-and-spinach filling with roasted asparagus and herbed spaghetti squash. For lunch, I ordered a vegan Mexican tortilla soup with crunchy tortilla strips and a vegan lemon-herb Mediterranean salad. My total was $92.14.

I got an email confirming my order and asking me when I’d like the items delivered: Sunday night or Monday morning? I chose Monday morning and Roseburrough showed up with a large tote bag filled with all my menu items securely enclosed in plastic microwavable containers; customers can also opt for reusable containers.

I spent the week eating my way through that large bag of food. I first tried the vegan zucchini roll-ups and the sides. One serving was enough for two people. A single order of vegan artichoke-and-spinach-filled zucchini rolls had four rolls, a small stack of roasted asparagus and a portion of butternut squash risotto that filled half of the plate.

My kids weren’t as excited; they’re suspicious of anything that has a color suggesting that vegetables may be present. My son agreed to try the lasagna rolls stuffed with chicken and pesto. He took a few bites then said, “Mmmm, it’s pretty good. I would eat this again.” The rest of the family-friendly meals I ate, thoroughly enjoying homemade meals that I didn’t have to make myself.


Rachel Pinsky can be reached at couveeats@gmail.com. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram @couveeats.

If You Go

What: Perfect Dish.

Where: 16209 S.E. McGillivray Blvd., Suite A/B, Vancouver.

Contact: 360-209-8167, PerfectDishDelivery.com or Facebook.com/PerfectDishDelivered

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