Feb 062005
Authors: James Baetke

Ramen Noodles: quick, easy and student-endorsed.

They may be a "meal," but if it were up to two Fort Collins entrepreneurs, a gourmet delight would be at the dinner table every night.

What if "braised beef Madagascar" could be a main staple in one's dinnertime diet? What if the all-natural beef dish slow-cooked in a rich sauce with shallots, white wine, all surrounded by a colorful bouquet of peppercorns, could be delivered right to someone's front door?

Well, it can.

Marta Hawk, founder of Home for Dinner, 212 Monroe Drive, has been putting gourmet dinners on Fort Collins residents' tables for more than two years, including her braised beef Madagascar, stuffed acorn squash and shrimp scampi.

"From our kitchen to yours," Hawk said while laughing.

The concept has been around for a while, but not until recently has the public's mouth been watering over homemade dinners that can be ordered and brought home to freeze. When ready, just thaw the dish, prepare and serve it.

"People don't know cooking like we do," said business partner Angela Norman, a mother, once-personal chef and an ex-engineering consultant.

Customers call ahead and arrange a session where a bulk order is placed based on a changing monthly menu. This allows the Home for Dinner staff to prep all necessary food items needed. Guests order 12 meals, with each meal serving six people.

"This concept in the last six months, on a national level, has got people really looking for us," Hawk said.

Norman and Hawk are not worried about competition. Hawk said she was the first business of her kind in Colorado and is also one of the few across the country that has a liquor license, inviting her guests to drink wine and margaritas as they pack up their dinners.

"Food and wine, to me, go together," Hawk said.

During their Wednesday or Thursday night sessions, guests come in and work on assembling all their meals in a large carton.

Not only is space provided but also all the ingredients are prepared ahead of time. The sessions include detailed instructions on how to prepare the food, the utensils are supplied and guidance of cooking techniques are given by the owners.

The owners recommend leaving space of about two cubic feet open in the freezer to fit the carton.

Norman and Hawk pride themselves on fresh, healthy ingredients perfect for the expert or novice gourmand. All Home For Dinner dishes are made from scratch, down to the chicken stock.

"We are very unique because of the quality of food and we have liquor," Norman said.

Hawk said her clientele ranges from the elderly to couples on a date. College students are not that common, but Home for Dinner wants to change that. Large fraternity and sorority houses and students looking for healthy complete meals that could be heated up in a snap could benefit from the service.

"We are amazed by the variety of people who come in," Hawk said.

Food is top quality and reasonable, too, Norman said. A single gourmet prep session runs $225 for 12 dinners serving up to six people. Depending how many people live in a family and how many nights they choose to eat the ready-made dinners, the dinners could last months.

To have Home for Dinner prepare and pack up food available for quick pickup, add an additional $25. Limited delivery, add $50.

Andrew Carter, a junior business finance major, likes the idea.

"I would buy into the session, but I am not sure I would have room in my freezer," Carter said.

To place your Home for Dinner order, call 416-9378 or visit www.home-fordinner.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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