The health and diet space in the American psyche is evolving. We are finally entering what I hope will be the final frontier leaving behind the last two decades of meal shakes, starvation, extreme diets, like juicing and Atkins and a misplaced emphasis on calories versus nutrition. It’s taken a while, but we’re here now with an ever growing understanding of the importance of organic sourcing and the power of mindful, balanced eating. We are collectively shifting towards reconnecting with food – real food. Processed is out, farmers’ markets are in. But the new challenge with healthy eating is the oh so precious commodity – time; eating healthy takes recipe planning, shopping and cooking. When your long work-day is done and the idea of chopping, stewing, and baking feels like an impending task, this is where Flavor ID comes in – the greater Los Angeles area’s newest meal-prep service. I say “meal-prep” lightly with no better term to describe Flavor ID because those words seem to conjure notions of calorically portioned, rote, one or two note flavor meals in little plastic boxes, and the exact antithesis of Flavor ID.
This boutique start-up, which launches this summer, was founded by two cousins whose great-grandparents immigrated to the states from Sicily. They spent their childhood in the garden and the kitchen, and you can almost taste the fields, Italian heritage and sunshine from their food memories in each bite. Flavor ID delivers vibrant organic ingredients in complex flavor pairings creating breathtakingly beautiful gourmet nutritional dishes. So you can see why I feel torn using the term “meal-delivery service” for it is far more than that. Perhaps ‘farmers market gourmet delivery’ is more apt.
I had the pleasure of meeting one half of the founding duo, Christine Dionese, and long-time integrative health nutrition coach, earlier this summer. She came over to my house to chat about the launch of Flavor ID and brought with her a cornucopia of bright dishes whose intensely visceral and pleasurable flavors are permanently seared into my food memory.
Here’s what I tried.
Coconut Meyer Lemon Bundino | The light Meyer lemon coconut yogurt comes at you with brightness, citrus and a hint of sweetness, but it’s the unexpected crunch of celery and dried Turkish mulberries that will have you going back for more. This was one of my favorites. Who knew celery and yogurt could be so jaw-droopingly tasty together?!
Hibiscus and Roasted Dandelion Tea Fruit Gazpacho | I expected this fruit gazpacho to be sweet, but what came at me was the herbal tea flavor first, then a subtle sweetness (but not intense) of the mango, fig and blood orange. This is the perfect soup for a hot LA afternoon.
Black Radish & Tart Cherry Compote | Roasted black cherries lend sweetness and tart to the crisp, slightly chewy, black roasted radish slices in this dish. The melding of soft with rough, sweet with char, and the final note of herbal chamomile creates a poetic dish. Never in my life (and mind you I lived in one of the food mecca’s of the world – Manhattan) have I tasted something so good for you with such vibrant, intense flavor juxtapositions. This is an absolutely beautiful dish. If you pass over this one, you will have missed the whole point of Flavor ID in my mind.
Maitake + Beech Mushroom “Carnitas” | These plant-based ‘street tacos’ are a far cry from the delicious Mexican tacos outside your door in SoCal, and unfortunately were not my fave. The BBQ sauce coating the mushrooms felt reminiscent of store bought bottled sweet chili sauce, the kind you find in the Asian grocery aisle, heavy handed and too sweet for my palette. If you’re in the mood for a taco, my advice – go for the real thing.
Jack Fruit Bo Ssäm | These leaf wraps are filled with ginger soaked, mildly spicy bean paste coated jack fruit slices that will leave a lasting, longing impression. Is it normal that I half-cry when taking the last bite of a delicious dish? Definitely not normal, but I did grow up in a house where we loved food so much we often fought over it. (e.g. My mom once threw a butterknife at me for eating her portion of the white meat on a roasted chicken.) This dish is one to fight over. I will dream about this dish for days, months and years to come. It is a MUST try.
Stamina Carrot | Steamed carrots dusted with adaptogens and soaked in an acai + camu vinaigrette created a caramelized nutty, spicy injection of intense flavor. Slightly sweet, but full of complex flavors I never knew carrots could embody.
Bone Broth | Asian flavors come through this simple rejuvenating bone broth. Spring onion, lime and cilantro feel bring a southeast Asia flare and the hint of spicy broccoli makes this feel like a true meal. I could sip this night and day.
Spicy Pepita Mylk | I eat, I cry, I eat again. This is my pattern with beautiful food. And this spicy pepita almond milk pushed my flavor boundaries, as many of these dishes did, and brought me to a place of tears as I drank the last sip. It’s very spicy and nutty, with hints of cinnamon and cayenne. Simply superb.
Blood Orange + Ylang Ylang Revive | Most of Flavor ID’s dishes brought unexpected moments. Many times I would expect sweet and I would get herbal or when I was preparing for salty/savory I would get sweet. This is the case with the blood orange revive. I was expecting sweet, but what came at me was tart and slightly bitter. Very refreshing when chilled.
After tasting these delicious dishes, I sat down with Christine to discuss her hopes for Flavor ID and to learn a little more about the brand. Read on for excerpts from our interview:
What was the inspiration behind starting Flavor ID?
It was a combination of a love to cook and entertain coupled with the food therapy advice I have been offering in my integrative private practice. My patients encouraged me for several years to create a service that offered meal deliveries based on the food therapy recipes and clinical nutrition I was dispensing.
And we created it also for people to be able to enjoy gourmet style food that is nutrient dense and personalized so it trades the over-thinking about dieting with a sense of satisfied nourishment for body and mind.
If you had to describe Flavor ID in 5 words what would you say?
Food therapy (that’s 2 lol), but I could also say it’s ‘personalized intuitive NOT-dieting gourmet food.’
Can you accommodate any type of dietary lifestyle? And how do your meal packages work?
We can accommodate any type of dietary lifestyle!
We’re offering 3, 5, 7 and 14 day packages that can cover all of your meals for the entire time with snacks or you’ll be able to choose particular meals- breakfasts, or lunch and dinner.
There will be packages that cater to our clients eating for two or planning a pregnancy- we’ll be able to personalize meals from pre-conception all the way through what we refer to as the “fourth trimester” or post-pregnancy. And yes, in case you’re wondering, this includes pre-conception meals for future dads, not just moms!
While we will encourage everyone to order our high vibration sips and mylk sensual a la carte, we will also offer personalized beverage flights.
What else do you want people to know about Flavor ID?
We’re not a diet or a cleanse or a detox! We want everyone to enjoy flavor ID with an “eat for life” philosophy that focuses on who we are and who we will become- to engender a nutrient-dense lifestyle that’s been personalized, but most of all, to enjoy flavor ID as an experience. We wanted to create restaurant-level foods that you can enjoy in the comfort of your home, office or your hotel to inspire your connection to healthy foods.
While we can personalize meals simply based on constitution types that we discover through a quick pre-order questionnaire, we can personalize meals down to the genetic level if you have the results of nutrigenomic testing. We however didn’t want to make this a requirement for personalization so that we could offer our service to everyone that is interested.
We’re currently working to create strategic partnerships with companies that offer this type of testing so that it will be available through our site in the near future.
***For more about Flavor ID, check out their website.
Written & Photographed by Amy Chang, founder + editor