Quincy News

Convenient Chef serves food, but it's not a restaurant

Brandon DeJaynes drops garlic onto some vegetables while making meals at Convenient Chef on Thursday, June. 7, 2018. The new business offers healthy pick up and catering options. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 8, 2018 8:55 am

QUINCY -- Just about every day, Convenient Chef owner Brandon DeJaynes has to explain to 15 or 20 people that he's not running a traditional restaurant at Fifth and Hampshire.

"They'll come in expecting to be able to eat here. This has always been a restaurant," DeJaynes said.

He makes lots of meals there, but DeJaynes has a different business model that involves preparing high-quality, healthy meals that are then delivered to his customers.

"What I do is provide a service. I fix keto, vegetarian, paleo or Whole30 diet meals. I just fix healthy food," DeJaynes said.

But rather than his customers coming in and buying a meal at the business address, they order his food service days in advance. Right now those orders come in via DeJaynes' Facebook account. DeJaynes, 37, hopes to get a website and his own app soon, but he hasn't got those in place just yet.

"Typically I'll put out a menu on Friday, and the deadline for (ordering) that menu is Sunday night," he said. "Then I'll cook and package and deliver those meals on Monday and Tuesday."

The meals are refrigerated and have preparation instructions included.

DeJaynes' first four months in business have been a whirlwind. He did 240 meals this week. The average cost of a meal is $13.

He also has been catering meals to the Blessing Cancer Center, where several doctors and nurses are among his clients.

DeJaynes hopes to eventually get a refrigeration area in his building so that people can come in and buy a meal that way. But with the explosive growth of his startup business, that's one thing that's still on the to-do list.

After learning to cook from local chefs and in restaurants elsewhere, DeJaynes is committed to changing the minds of people who think healthy food won't taste great.

Going forward, he knows he'll need help in the kitchen. He said it will be a transition for him because he feels responsible for every meal prepared.

"I cook for some people with nut allergies and some where the kids are allergic to certain dairy products," he said. "It's hard for me to hand over control to someone until I'm 100 percent certain everything's going to be done right."

DeJaynes' name might be familiar to many people.

The Quincy native was drafted in the 21st round of the Major League Baseball draft in 1998 by the Seattle Mariners based on the pitching skills he demonstrated at Quincy High School. He didn't sign with the Mariners but joined the St. Louis Cardinals after graduating from Quincy University in 2003.

He was a middle reliever playing for Class A Peoria in 2004 before he broke his wrist during spring training 2005, ending his baseball career.

Former Cardinals' pitcher and outfielder Rick Ankiel put DeJaynes in touch with some restaurant operators in Florida, where he trained with talented people in the food industry.

Back in Quincy, DeJaynes worked with chef Kevin Minnick at the Maine Course and Cory Shupe at Thyme Square before starting his own business.

There's a connection between DeJaynes' athletic career and his career as a chef.

"Going back to spring training, it was hard to get done with a workout and then try to get a healthy meal afterwards," he said.

Now he's trying to provide healthier options for his clients.

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