Soccer practice. Ballet. Working late. Reasons vary, but many families simply don’t have time to prepare a homemade meal every night. Some get up early to make slow-cooker meals, some resort to fast food, others order pizza … again. To shake up the dinner routine in a way that doesn’t require extra time or sacrifice nutrition or flavor, look to homemade suppers prepared by local chefs, caterers and restaurateurs. Simply pop them in the oven and enjoy!
Fairhope chef and entrepreneur Maggie Weir learned to cook before she could even reach the stove, something she credits to her mother, also a trained chef. Maggie went on to study marketing at the University of Mississippi before attending culinary school. When she and her husband moved to Fairhope, she took advantage of the fresh start and created her dream job — a personal chef business she named Weir Delicious. In addition to offering cooking classes, meal planning consultations and rent-a-chef services, Maggie makes and delivers gourmet, from-scratch meals — items such as shrimp and grits, lasagna, vegetable spaghetti bolognese and roasted tarragon chicken.
Weir Delicious • 601-668-6869
Jamie Roussos Foods
A year ago, Jamie Roussos started a Greek, Southern and Cajun cuisine business in Mobile. Dishes such as chicken and sausage jambalaya, shrimp Alexis and grits, moussaka and seafood gumbo are prepared, frozen and delivered to local retail stores. The company recently became a federally inspected facility, meaning Jamie can sell his products anywhere in the U.S. “If you want good, fresh ingredients, that’s what you’re getting, ” says Mary Peddit, manager of Bebo’s Old Shell Market. “We have them delivered every week.” They are also vailable at Domke Market, Myers Market, Manning’s Food For Less, Saraland Produce, Allegri Farm Market, Battles Wharf Mini-Mart, Cain’s Piggly Wiggly (Fairhope), Farm Fresh Meats and the dock store at Orange Beach Marina.
Jamie Roussos Foods • 377-4110
For the past five years, Kelly Haughton has been selling frozen meals at her restaurant, Chat-A-Way Cafe, and demand is always high. “Some days, my freezer makes as much money as one of my cash registers at the restaurant, ” she says. Kelly credits her success to repeat customers looking for fresh meals with no preservatives. “I don’t open any cans for these meals, ” she says. “I make my own cream of mushroom soup and sauces.” Chat-A-Way sells old faithfuls, such as spinach Madeleine and squash zucchini casserole, as well as upscale selections, such as mushroom risotto.
Chat-A-Way Cafe • 4366 Old Shell Road. 343-9889
Lil G’s Cajun Market
Just off of U.S. Highway 59 on the way to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Lil G’s Cajun Market offers authentic Cajun to-go meals, such as deboned, stuffed turkeys and chickens; seafood gumbo; crawfish étouffée; crab and corn soup; red beans and rice; and boudin balls. “I get my customers to the end of the cooking process, ” says owner Gay Mueller. “All they have to do is heat it up, and it’s ready.” Gay is originally from New Orleans and relocated to Baldwin County after Hurricane Katrina. After working in the restaurant business her entire life, Mueller was ready to put her family first and have evenings off, so she opened Lil G’s. “I close at 6 p.m., and I’m still doing what I love, ” she says.
Lil G’s Cajun Market • 3800 S. Hickory St., Loxley. 964-2804
Johnson & Wales-trained chef and entrepreneur Clark Lyon opened his popular restaurant Camille’s Sidewalk Café across from the University of South Alabama just before starting a catering company called Clark’s Kitchen. He focuses on hearty comfort food for busy families – chicken and wild rice casserole, lasagna, chicken alfredo, breakfast casserole, chicken enchiladas and chicken potpie are a just few examples of the delicious offerings. The meals incorporate fresh ingredients and homemade sauces. “Everything is made from scratch by me, ” he says.
Clark’s Kitchen • (Inside Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe) 5817 Old Shell Road. 622-0869
Rae’s Southern Kitchen and Catering Co.
Jessica Guthrie’s vision for her business is to add a creative twist to Southern comfort food made with high-quality ingredients. Rae’s serves take-out lunch and offers event catering, but its focus is to-go meals for families, as well as ready-made party food and snacks. “This is a great alternative to fast food or going out to eat, and you are spending the same amount of money, ” Jessica says. Rae’s serves traditional casseroles such as wild rice and chicken, king ranch chicken, beef stroganoff, chicken potpie and low-fat options.
Rae’s Southern Kitchen and Catering Co. • 460 N. Section St., Fairhope. 210-6135
text by jill clair gentry