With a plethora of available dining options, it’s no wonder that nearly all residents go through one right of passage: putting on ‘the Dubai stone’ – approximately 6.3 kilograms of fat. After all, why go through all of the hassle of going shopping for ingredients and then slaving over a stove for hours to create the perfect meal? And, for unmarried men and women, take out seems to be the easier option; at least 11 times each week, according to a 2012 YouGov and LivingSocial study on UAE eating habits.
Yet, a new monthly subscription service that allows people to sample new food and beverage products aims to change that. The Chef Box offers subscribers ten to 12 options to sample each month, with each box focusing on a particular theme.
“The goal is to introduce people to different foods,” says Neil MacLaren, The Chef Box’s sales director. “I know I am the worst when it comes to going to shops and buying new [products], so if our subscribers like the new products enough to go back and buy them the next time they go shopping, that will be a success for us.”
Subscription-based shopping services have been growing worldwide, especially after New York-based Birchbox kicked off the trend in 2010, giving women the chance to sample luxury cosmetics. In the US, this was quickly followed by an explosion of food-related subscription boxes – Love with Food, Healthy Surprise and Foodzie – while the UAE’s had a taste of the beauty box concept with GlamBox. With the contents of each month’s box a surprise, “it’s like a little birthday present every month,” says MacLaren.
Internationally, many of these food boxes have a strong focus on healthy and organic snacks and foods – catering to a growing demand for more natural products. The Chef Box has also chosen to kick off its service with a box centered on ‘sustainability’, featuring organic brands and healthier options. However, it will offer a range of themed products (for example, the World Cup or Ramadan) in the future, giving subscribers the chance to sample a mix of brands to encourage them to experiment with tastes and motivate them to cook. “In the future, we might have different boxes on offer for those interested,” adds MacLaren.
Each box, packed with goodies that are valued between AED12 and AED150, also comes with a little brochure full of recipes and meal ideas. Subscription packages start at AED114 for two months.