Thursday, April 18, 2024
Whatcha Got Cookin!

Chef makes gourmet meals accessible to rural communities

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COLES CORNER – In a land of few dining options, Chef Jenny Hoffman of Whatcha Got Cookin! is creating delicious and diverse meals for home delivery from Lake Wenatchee down to Dryden.

“I started my career about 20 years ago just making sauces and soups. For me, I feel that is where any good food comes from, is the beginning steps of the process: the onions, the celery and the carrots that get sauteed with garlic and the herbs and the seasonings, which turns into a sauce or a marinade, which is any good base for any good meal,” said Hoffman.

Each Tuesday, Hoffman posts a new menu of three different meal options and a soup. The meals are $17 per person, and a quart of soup is $15, which serves two. Hoffman accommodates food allergies, vegan and vegetarian needs. Orders can be picked up or delivered for a five dollar fee. Menus will often feature classics such as pot roast or meatloaf, but also some of Hoffman’s personal favorites, such as sausage and chicken gumbo or pork vindaloo.

“I just really like creating traditional things that you would create at home, and also putting things on menus that you would love to try, but isn't something that you want to attempt at home,” said Hoffman.

Hoffman accepts orders through Thursday, grocery shops in Wenatchee on Friday, then makes everything from scratch over the weekend. During the summer, many of the ingredients are picked fresh from Hoffman’s 16 garden beds. The meals are packaged in reusable, microwave safe containers and delivered or picked up on Monday, with a six-day shelf life.

Prior to Whatcha Got Cookin!, Hoffman said she had spent over 10 years as the executive chef for Amazon’s catering department, and had started her meal deliveries in Seattle during the pandemic. When she moved to Cole’s Corner two years ago, she had her hands full with homeschooling three children. Yet, Hoffman saw a need to restart her meal service in a rural area.

“I know that there's not a lot of restaurants out here…and I still have a high passion for cooking and supporting the community,” said Hoffman.

Hoffman makes about 30 to 50 meals per week for families, seniors, and those with second homes who like to freeze then reheat the meals during their visits. Each week, they get to enjoy a different meal, without having to leave their house.

Although her commute to the grocery store is now an hour, with access to about half the ingredients she could find in Seattle, Hoffman says her work here is more gratifying.

“People invite me into their homes, we have conversations, and it's just more neighborly and friendly,” said Hoffman. 

Her business has spread primarily by word of mouth, through the spirit of community. While some customers discovered Whatcha Got Cookin! through the Plain Farmer’s Market or recommendations from friends, others have discovered it by generosity.

“I get calls from people that want to help out other people. I never got any of those in Seattle. So, when I get the phone call that somebody wants to buy somebody else a meal, or the community comes together to support somebody that's in extra need of help, or a son is calling to set their mother up for the meal program, all of those just makes it even better,” said Hoffman.

Hoffman also offers catering for gatherings as few as five people and events as large as 100 people. More information about Hoffman’s menus and how to order can be found at whatchagotcookin.org.


Taylor Caldwell: 509-433-7276 or taylor@ward.media

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