Meet the former head chef at Matt Healy's Gron Kafe now delivering her tasty meals to Leeds homes
Having a healthy work-life balance is important to Leeds chef Natalie Firth.
So much so, that she's created a business around taking the hassle out of cooking for busy professionals and parents across Yorkshire.
Just The Fox Kitchen delivers nutritious meal plans for those who struggle to find the time to shop, prepare and cook their weekly dinners.
The idea for the business came after Natalie's friends complained of the impossible task of organising three meals a day around their busy schedules, instead reaching for snacks, expensive takeaways or bland plates of food.
Natalie told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “The meal-prep business can be very manly, geared around bulking for the gym or calorie counting. That works for some people, but that’s not what I’m about.
“I believe in eating what you want and what makes you feel good, everything in moderation. I didn’t want the business to be preachy, just super tasty and vibrant cooking.
“I try every meal myself and make sure it’s colourful and packed with flavour, nuts, seeds, grains and fibres, with exciting sauces.
"You’ll feel full and energised and ready to get on with your day.”
Morley-born Natalie quit a teaching job in her early twenties and retrained as a chef, enjoying a successful career culminating in being the executive chef at Masterchef star Matt Healy's Grön Kafé.
She loved her time at the Scandanavian-style cafe but left in February to pursue her dream of running her own business.
It was a big leap to make during the pandemic, but Natalie spotted the growing need for healthy, hassle-free meals delivered to customers' doors.
The 30-year-old added: “I was so nervous to launch the business, I was worried no one would care and expected it to be a slow burner.
"But I’m so pleased with the response, it’s been really positive. People got behind it from the first week and they’ve kept coming back.
"I’m a big believer in having a good work-life balance and all the meals I try out, I take home with me. The point of the business is that it’s for busy people and I’m a busy person myself!"
Customers can choose two or three-day meal plans from Natalie's tasty menu, which this week includes a Thai chicken stir-fry with cashew nuts, pepper and jasmine rice, lamb seekh kebab and a vegan 'mezze glow bowl' with houmous and falafel.
“I’m obsessed with Asian and Thai food, but I also love Lebanese and Middle Eastern cooking," Natalie added.
"My shawarma which is packed full of pomegranate seeds, nuts and lemon - it’s fresh and clean but full of flavour. I’ve got a house full of cookbooks, they’re the only books I read, so I get inspiration from all over the world.”
Natalie is now eyeing up expansion and she will cater at food festivals and private parties this summer.
She added: “I’d love the meal plans to go nationwide, I’m working on ways to keep the meals as fresh as possible.
"Monday is my busiest kitchen day and sometimes I wake up and I’m overwhelmed. But the minute I get in the kitchen, I'm calm.
"I’m saying yes to everything at the moment and seeing where it takes me."
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