By Kiersten Tomson
Just like your healthy resolutions for 2017, I made one too.
I’ve been doing the Whole30 since January 3. It’s the caveman diet, which means no sugar, no dairy, no grains and no alcohol.
(Public service announcement: I miss wine the most.)
But eating clean, reading labels and finding out what exactly is in your food is hard work.
That’s something Chef Josh Katt gets.
He’s the head of Kitchfix: a clean, healthy food delivery service in Chicago specializing in gluten-free and paleo meals.
“This is definitely one of our busier times of the year,” says Katt. “The first quarter is definitely when a lot of people want to change their lifestyle and change how they want to eat, so we can help them with that.”
Katt is a chef by trade. He started cooking when he was 14 years old. He went to culinary school, fell in love with food in college and dedicated his career to working in restaurants.
“But when I turned about 25, I realized that I also had other goals,” explains Katt. “I wanted to have a family. I wanted to have a little bit more of a work/life balance, and working in a kitchen just wasn’t going to provide that to me.”
Katt started exploring other avenues of cooking and began teaching kids how to make healthy food through the nonprofit Common Threads.
That’s where he met the first customer of his future company: a woman who wanted a clean, healthy diet while recovering from cancer.
“She asked if I could prepare her foods from the anti-inflammatory diet and I started researching and really took to that style of cooking,” says Katt.
And Katt had the background to make this healthy food taste fantastic.
“I had learned growing up in restaurants all about technique, using spices and herbs to make food taste really good,” says Katt. “I worked at a few farm-to-table restaurants, so I learned how to take care of ingredients and how to find the best ones. I started applying those skills to preparing meals for this woman and her family.”
The news of Katt’s cooking spread by word of mouth, and the business started to take off.
“I realized, ‘Hey I have something here. I should get a kitchen and start doing deliveries versus going to people’s homes,’” remembers Katt. “So that’s what I did: I took a chance, rented a kitchen and started doing meal-delivery to homes [through] taking orders via email.”
Kitchfix officially launched in 2013.
Four years later, Katt operates Kitchfix out of a 5,000 square-foot facility in West Town, employs 45 people and has delivered thousands of meals across Chicagoland while continuing to evolve.
“One thing that we are really trying to bring to the forefront is transparency,” explains Katt. “We want to be really clear about where our food is coming from and why we pick it. We just launched this QR code that you can scan on every meal that shows you the list of all our ingredients that we use in our kitchen and where they come from.”
People order multiple meals at a time (about two to three days’ worth of food) from a menu that rotates on a weekly basis.
Crowd favorites include almond crusted chicken and paleo sloppy joes, along with salads, soups, cold-pressed juices and homemade snacks.
“We also have a grain-free granola,” adds Katt. “We are in about 250 stores and continuing to add new products and grow our store count to reach more people across the whole United States.”
It’s not just all business for Katt. He’s found his balance, too, living with his wife and one-and-a-half-year-old in Humboldt Park.
“I am doing what I love, and I think that’s sort of our motto. If it ever gets to a point where we are not loving coming to work every day, then that’s a problem,” says Katt. “We think there are a lot of people out there who haven’t heard of us yet, and we could really help them with convenient, delicious, healthy food.”