Cooking for the family, whether it’s for two or five, isn’t as easy as it sounds. Between the planning, food preparation and actual cooking, there’s a lot of time involved. And that doesn’t even include going to the supermarket and queuing to get everything you need!
This is where meal kit service Mise En Place comes in.
We talked to Hai Son, co-founder of Mise En Place about Singaporeans’ love for food, the joy of cooking and how Mise En Place got its bearings.
Hello Hai Son, thank you so much for agreeing to do this. Firstly, can you tell our readers a little about yourself?
Mise En Place Singapore (MEP) is meal kit service where the preparation process of planning, portioning, cutting and marination of ingredients would be done by us.
Our promise to you is that you can prepare a meal in under 15 mins.
The founder and co-founders of MEP are Jonathan, myself and Felise. We all met in school at Ngee Ann Polytechnic.
Fun fact: Felise and Jonathan have been dating for over 2 years now.
Who else does the work at Mise En Place? Tell me about them and what they do.
Jonathan is a professional chef, with experience working a 5-Star Hotel Restaurant. He plans our menus, recipes and oversees kitchen operations and transportation. I’m the brand guy who does our public relations and churns out content for social media, which I also design. Felise takes care of customer relations and packing operations. Everything we prepare for our customers is vacuumed-sealed for maximum freshness! Oh, we also have a new staff member, Gerard, who helps out in the kitchen and also assists Felise with packing.
How did Mise En Place get started?
We at MEP believe that cooking is an act of love.
The thing that set MEP in motion was when the best chef Jonathan has ever known, his grandmother, passed away in 2018.
Without her, his grandfather suddenly had to prepare his own meals from nothing. Since he was never needed in the kitchen for the last 50 years, he was at a loss. Jonathan felt that he had to help. So he made his first meal kits for his grandfather.
He even sent him voice messages with details on how to prepare the dishes.
We want to make it easy for Singaporeans cook for their family and friends, regardless of time constraints or culinary know-how.
Where do Mise En Place’s recipes come from?
Apart from running a kitchen, we often joke that we are also running a FAT (Food and Travel) club.
All three of us are huge foodies and we like to travel everywhere from hawkers to “atas” restaurants in search of good food. We go around eating, make noteworthy critiques and discuss adapting the dishes in our free time.
Luckily, we are in Singapore where the vibrant food scene truly reflects its great diversity. After all, one of Singapore’s great national pasttimes is to “makan”.
How do you decide what kind of recipes to include?
It is really a balance between tradition and innovation.
We constantly strive to improve our collection of recipes while also carrying the nostalgic taste of traditional local dishes which give our customers a flavour of home.
The goal is to prevent “flavour fatigue” by hitting a balance of pasta dishes, Western entrees, Asian cuisines and a variety of protein options to ensure that there are many options for our customers throughout the week.
How do you get professional chefs to tailor their recipes so that they can be attempted by anybody?
We embrace the philosophy of good food being as simple as possible. After all, as Gusteau from Ratatouille says, “Anyone can cook”.
We are constantly in the process of simplifying our meal kits. We’re trying to go from “some assembly required” to “less assembly required”.
Ultimately, we want our customers to discover and understand their own taste buds – because we believe that home cooking is all about being able to cook what you would love to eat. Our meal kits seek to help them do that by improving their culinary skills through hands-on experience.
What are some of Mise En Place’s best-selling dishes?
Based on trends, our Western and Fusion meal kits sell best.
In particular, our fusion-pasta dishes like “Black Pepper Crab Linguine Pasta” and Western-style “Texas-Style Smoked Platter with Roasted Smashed Baby Potatoes and Farm Vegetables”.
Perhaps the reason behind this is that most Singaporean households want some iteration of “same same but different” ?
How has the Circuit Breaker of 2020 affected Mise En Place?
The Circuit Breaker of 2020 was one of our craziest peak periods so far. It also happened to be when we started our business.
As a result of more people staying and working from home, we got more orders and new customers signing up.
Spending more time at home also helped Jonathan come up with more elaborate and complex dishes. It was also a peak period for our menu innovation.
Hello Fresh is a US-based meal plan kit service that has plans for all types of diet, from vegans to pescatarians. Do you have a similar monthly subscription service?
For now, we are doing a weekly menu as we find that it is the ideal way for customers to try us out and taste the difference when it comes to the meal kit service market.
However, we are looking into creating a monthly subscription model to cater to our supportive customer base, especially the growing repeat customers.
Are there any specials we can look forward to during Chinese New Year? Give us some hints?
Of course! We have just launched our Chinese New Year Menu and campaign with the theme of “traditional with a twist”.
Here’s a sneak peek at some items on our menu…
What do you like to cook at home during weekends?
I’ll let Jonathan take this one.
I love experimenting with new dishes and preparation methods. I enjoy making dishes from scratch, especially those that require a long prep time because I know the extra time and steps placed in the dish helps to elevate it just one step further.
I made this local spread with Felise for a family dinner.
What have you learnt about Singaporeans and food from running Mise En Place?
Running this start-up and interacting with our customers has been an eye-opening experience to the intimate relationship between Singaporeans and our food.
We believe that the unique blend of cultures here in Singapore truly pushes us to be more adventurous with their food choices.
We would like to encourage our customers to try cooking with new ingredients, adopt a new cooking method and be adventurous not only through eating but through cooking as well.
Don’t forget to check out Mise En Place on Instagram and Facebook! Simply DM them to order and you’ll be all set to have some quality time at home with or surprise your date – a little help with Mise En Place of course.