Photo: Sophia Tewa
Over the past year, a new food delivery service has quietly made its way into local kitchens.
The healthy meals-on-the-go company Maikana Foods launched in December 2016 in Darien, New Canaan and Norwalk, growing mostly through word of mouth and social media. Unlike other popular food delivery services available in Fairfield County such as Blue Apron or Sun Basket, Maikana meals are ready to eat and can be ordered a day in advance or for the week.
The company is the brainchild of Jamieson Van Loan, a Fijian-American chef with Darien roots.
Trained at the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan, New York, Van Loan owned Mamasa restaurant in Costa Rica before moving back to her native Darien in 2015. She spent about $10,000 to set up her commercial kitchen, business registration, health department permits and other start-up costs.
She sees Maikana – which means “come and eat” in Fijian – as filling a need for busy professionals without the time to shop or cook healthily.
“I found it really difficult and time-consuming to always be running around and trying to get the best organic produce, be healthy and work on top of that. So I just assumed other people were probably having the same issues,” she said.
Van Loan, who handles everything from cooking to delivery and web orders, prepares the food the evening before and cooks it first thing in the morning. She makes breakfast, lunch and dinner meals averaging 150 orders per week.
“I walked into this not knowing what the reception would be, but it’s been really great,” she said. “The community has been so supportive.”
Currently, most of her customers are busy parents who want to come home to food on their doorstep, or health-focused offices looking for full-day meal plans. A popular option is full-day delivery for $35, which contains food for breakfast, lunch and dinner for one person. The food comes in fresh frozen ice packs and dinner meals are intended to be re-heated.
Meal delivery isn’t new in Connecticut. A few other local businesses take phone orders for home food deliveries in Fairfield County, including Simply Local, a Norwalk-based catering company and Maison Privé Chefs in Greenwich. But Van Loan wanted to bring the ease of online food ordering and learned how to run her own website, which she updates every week with new items.
Maikana’s menu regularly features seasonal organic produce that Van Loan buys at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods or online. Her creative and protein-full “power bowls” have recently included Mexican-style roasted sweet potatoes with ground turkey, and lemon and lime juice. For breakfast, Van Loan often makes honey-infused Greek yogurt, peanut butter parfaits or homemade granola.
“It gives people the variety to sustain healthy eating,” says Van Loan. “Most of my clientele tend to be people who try to do better with eating and want to fuel their days properly.”
Dinners start around $10 and power bowls, which are large enough to be shared, run from $16 to $18.50 with add-ons. They’re packed with grains such as quinoa, couscous, or coconut brown rice, and high-nutrient vegetables in season like roasted Brussels sprouts and butternut squash. A few surprise ingredients often top the mix from pepita seeds to pomegranate, tahini paste to edamame.
“The combination of vegetables, fruits, grains and proteins is a very creative approach to food and you never feel like you’re having the same thing twice. It’s good for people who eat healthy because you can get bored,” says Leigh Gallagher who works as an executive director for a Rowayton hedge fund, and gets her Maikana lunch bowls and dinner meals delivered at her office a couple times a week.
Gallagher’s neighborhood has few healthy food spots, she said, and most restaurants don’t do deliveries. About 15 of her coworkers also regularly order from Maikana Foods. “They’re usually people who are thoughtful about what they put in their body,” she said.
Maikana’s production line has little to zero wasted food each week, Van Loan said. Her company doesn’t have a brick and mortar store and doesn’t charge for delivery. Customers pre-order for the week or at 3 p.m. the day before.
“Being in the digital world and having the ability to know ahead of time what needs to be prepared, cuts down massively on food waste,” Van Loan said.
Maikana does home-deliveries in Darien, New Canaan and Norwalk and drops off orders at Lululemon athletica in Greenwich. Darien Butcher Shop and Neat of Darien also offer a range of Maikana bowls.
Van Loan is working on a new line of herb powders to launch this Spring. She will also begin hiring employees in the coming months and plans to soon expand to Westport and Stamford.