Auckland chefs Nic Watt and Darren Johnson have launched an exciting and delicious new venture, Cookalong – a gourmet food delivery service offering fresh, pre-prepared restaurant-quality ingredients and meals.
With a soft launch during Level 3 of the COVID-19 lockdown, the duo is now ready to formally introduce Auckland to the Cookalong service with recipes drawing on their 50 years of combined experience in kitchens throughout New Zealand, Japan, Peru, the USA and UK.
Watt is the name and face behind three Auckland restaurants – SKYCITY’s MASU, Orakei’s Akarana Eatery and Newmarket’s INCA – while Johnson is a long-time friend and colleague of Watt, having been executive chef at MASU and now co-owner and culinary director at INCA. Both chefs are committed to creating delicious recipes for their Cookalong customers using only the best local, seasonal, and fresh produce.
With menus that change weekly (with Date Night menus changing fortnightly) and delivered every Tuesday, most of the hard work is done in the restaurant. All meals require 30 minutes or less of preparation and/or cooking time with customers able to simply sauté and serve or heat and eat. Each recipe card includes easy to follow instructions and includes the full recipe, “Cookalong from Scratch”, to recreate those favourite dishes at home. Cookalong’s product offering includes:
The Four-Night Gourmet Dinner (subscription service): (serves two or more) sauté and serve chef-prepared dishes with restaurant sauces and prepared garnishes, such as a Beef and pumpkin ragu with orecchiette and lemon gremolata or the Master stock braised pork belly with daikon, shiitake mushroom, rice and bok choy.
The Three-Night Family Heat and Eat (subscription service): (serves four) delicious meals like the Chicken, mushroom and hidden vege pie with wood-roasted cauliflower almond salad or the Beef cheeks and parsnip mash/ tomato, broccoli and toasted almond salad, that customers can simply heat, eat and enjoy.
The Three-Course Date Night: (serves two) sauté and serve chef-prepared dishes, such as Salmon tartare (entrée), Ginger miso free-range chicken breast on roasted corn puree with spinach and ruby grapefruit salad (main), and Vanilla bean rice pudding with roasted spiced pineapple (dessert). *Date Night menus change fortnightly.
The Cookalong concept of having chefs do the food prep and inviting diners along for the ride by finishing the meals in the comfort of their own homes originated pre-pandemic, but development was fast-tracked during lockdown.
“Not everyone can dine in and there are occasions where you want a no-fuss but delicious meal solution in your own home,” said Watt. “Darren and I will draw on our experiences both in the restaurant and through our travels to create and deliver dishes that we would be proud to serve our friends and family at home.”
In addition to the meals, the chefs have launched a Pantry Shop which will sell some of Johnson’s popular sauces from INCA, including a Habanero sauce, Smoky BBQ sauce, Pickled Chilli Salsa and Pickled Red Onions. They can be ordered as an extra when ordering any Cookalong product.
Cookalong has truly thought of the full dining experience by also including an option to add a virgin cocktail mix to orders. Current options include a strawberry or pineapple daiquiri, with diners able to simply add ice, their spirit of choice, and blend and enjoy as a pre-dinner cocktail.