By DAVID LLOYD JONES
GTR Newspapers photo
The scenario is a familiar one: Exhausted Dad and wiped-out Mom both get out of work late. Ahead lies the unappetizing prospect of hitting a fast food carryout for a couple of meals of caloric nightmares, spending a too-large portion of what’s left of the weekly paycheck for more civilized fare, or going home and raiding the refrigerator in hopes that what it holds is still edible.
But (and here is where the plot changes) such sad fates need not be. While one-half the married pair turns on the TV and pours the libations the other half whips over to the refrigerator, whisks out a gourmet treat, pops it into the oven and in an hour or so the two are dining luxuriously and reasonably inexpensively in the comfort of their own home.
That, at least, is what Lee St. John and a bunch of chefs in Ft. Worth hope happen.
After a business career spanning a quarter of a century, St. John has opened Super Suppers at 8171 S. Harvard Ave. in the Walnut Creek shopping center. It’s not that Super Suppers has taken all the work out of the kitchen, but it has cut down on preparation time for a delicious meal.
“We’re sort of like a food boutique,” says St. John. “We get all the recipes, do all the shopping, all the dicing and slicing and shredding required, and help the shopper go on his or her way with a days worth of food.”
What happens is this: A customer contacts (phone or computer will do) and places an order. A scheduled session is agreed to, and at the amen hour the customer shows up and finds the food purchased, the ingredients measured, everything ready to go.
For the next hour or so the food is mixed, marinated, or otherwise manipulated to a point where some none-too-stressful work in the home kitchen will produce a delicious meal. Then the customer leaves with baggies of goodies and the Super Suppers staff does all the cleaning up.
“The whole idea came out of the Culinary Institute of Ft. Worth,” says St. John. “They come up with the recipes and we follow them to the letter.
“Now if a customer putting together a meal decides to change anything it will inevitably change the taste of the final product but sometimes it might be deemed necessary. We have, for example, a pineapple salsa that is spread over chicken that includes pineapples, peaches and brown sugar. A diabetic might want to cut out the sugar, but the flavor would obviously be different.”
Each month the Texas chefs come up with a menu designed to capitalize on seasonal foods. For May, for example, there is an Italian seafood stew, pork chops with cranberry barbeque sauce, baked praline French toast, tarragon chicken with lemon and white wine sauce and a crunchy baked white fish among others. Some can simply be put in the oven, some require standing over the grill, but each of them are considerably less labor intensive than starting from scratch.
The prices vary but the basic price is for a six-meal set which includes four to six (usually six) portions for six meals. That would come out to 24-36 individual plates at cost of $109 (with the price due to rise soon to $115). The customer can get six different menu items for the price, and Super Suppers also offers side dishes (man cannot live by Kielbasa-stuffed braided bread alone) and desserts. For another $20 the assembly line at Super Suppers will do even the trifling amount of work for you.
Meals can be ordered one at a time with a single meal costing $22 and a half-meal (fewer portions but enough for a husband and wife) costing $14 before the price rise.
According to St. John there are now about 200 Super Supper franchises throughout the United States with one set to be added in Owasso by the end of this month. The Website, should your palate be tempted, is www.supersupperstulsasouth.com. The phone number is (918) 499-8779.
After all that time in the corporate world, how does St. John like being the head honcho of a Super Suppers?
“I’m probably working more hours than I’ve ever worked in my life,” she says. “I’ve probably never had more fun.”
(A side note: Suzanne Rogers, who for years stood by her husband Nelson at Nelson’s Buffeteria downtown, is working at Super Suppers.)