Number of the Day

The Rise of Michelin-Starred Meal Kits, by the Numbers

Upscale restaurants want to sell you a fancy dinner — to cook yourself

$275: That’s how much you’ll pay for a chicken dinner meal kit from the famous Manhattan upscale restaurant Eleven Madison Park, as reported in Bloomberg Quint. (Not included in the price: delivery or cooking.)

Eleven Madison Park’s offering is only the latest in a string of fancy meal kits offered by high-end restaurants. New York eateries Carbone and Masa offer $500 and $800 meal kits. Alinea, a Chicago three-Michelin-starred restaurant owned by the founder of Tock, the reservation platform on which many of these high-end meal kits can be ordered, is rolling out its own Thanksgiving packages that go for up to $895 (they include free-range turkey, not Butterball).

Restaurants that have managed to hang on through the pandemic have done so by turning to outdoor seating, takeout, and delivery. This has proved hard for restaurants whose primary draw is their location, like the Times Square Olive Garden, and for high-end restaurants with a clientele that expects a level of ambiance, service, and presentation for the high menu prices — not plastic containers or a wobbly table on a sidewalk. This may be why these restaurants won’t turn to traditional delivery and takeout — they’re protecting their brand for after the pandemic.

Back in June, Marker interviewed chef and restaurant owner Dan Barber, who was doing something similar: He turned his shuttered farm-to-table restaurants into food-processing lines, selling produce boxes to keep staff employed and help the local farmers who supplied his restaurant get their top-shelf ingredients in the hands of customers.

But home cooks’ appetite for meal kits is a lifeline for more than just restaurants: Even previously-struggling meal kit delivery companies like Blue Apron have seen their fortunes turn for the better since the pandemic began.

Here’s an idea: Bundle meal kit subscriptions with a celebrity chef Masterclass.

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