Marketplace: Element Park City provides meal kits and private chef services
When Lucy Block moved to Park City from San Diego 10 years ago, one of the things that she missed the most was a store that sold prepared meal kits that catered to her dietary restrictions. For years, she begged friends and other business owners to start a similar service in Park City, but no one did.
Finally, with no experience in business ownership, she decided to step up and start it herself. Last November, she launched Element Park City.
Element, located at 1400 Snow Creek Drive, sells fully prepared meals that include fresh, locally sourced ingredients. People can order their meal kits in advance or pick up daily selections at the store, which rotate based on the produce that is available. Element also offers private chef services from head chef and co-founder of Element Sebastian Silbereis.
One of the qualities the founders say makes Element unique is that the meals are entirely gluten free, since Block has celiac disease. There is also no refined sugar in the food that Silbereis prepares. But perhaps the most defining factor is that the ingredients come almost exclusively from Utah farmers, which means that the menu is always changing.
“It’s not a production facility where we are making the same things all the time,” Block said. “It depends on what we have in the kitchen.”
Selling fresh, locally sourced food is a value of Block and Silbereis. Block said that she loves to enter stores where she can close her eyes, choose any item off the shelves and know that it will not have added chemicals or come from a facility that treats animals poorly. She wanted Element to be that for other people.
“Being able to come in and grab something quick and know that it is healthy is nice,” she said.
Creating as little waste as possible is also something that both Block and Silbereis consider when packaging the kits. While trying out other meal kits after moving to Park City, she was often frustrated by the amount of plastic that is wasted in separating the ingredients. The two are constantly working on ways to reduce the amount of plastic they use.
Silbereis is glad to work in a kitchen where what is important to him is valued.
“We are treating the Earth and the people who farm these amazing products with respect,” he said.
He has been cooking food for as long as he can remember, starting with experimenting with different ingredients he collected from the pantry as a child. He was raised half on his grandmother’s delicious-but-unhealthy Alabama soul cooking and half on his mother’s healthy recipes that he did not enjoy eating. He always wanted to create food that was good for both the body and the taste buds.
As an adult, he bounced from an ice cream shop to a gourmet pizza shop to five-star restaurants at hotels until he and his family moved to Park City to open a private catering and chef business.
When he met Block last summer, she told him about her idea to start a meal kit service. He was intrigued by the prospect of getting his creative recipes to more people in the area and they decided to partner on the business.
“It’s a really cool opportunity to introduce people to new food,” he said.
Block said that it has been a challenge to get the business off the ground, but it has been fun to do a big life change. She had been a stay-at-home mom for more than a decade and, before that, worked in public relations. Working 18-hour days to get the business started was a major shift, but she said that she has enjoyed it.
Now that the business is up and running, she said that she comes across new challenges almost daily as the business grows. Sometimes, it is difficult to work around a farmer’s schedule because she cannot always get the ingredients she wants when she needs them.
But, to provide fresh, organic meals, she would not have it any other way.
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