In San Francisco’s new tech economy, most of the foot soldiers are dudes. You don’t have to like it; I certainly don’t. For now, let’s just say, “It is what it is” (a beloved phrase of jaded New Yorkers).
Myriah Zaytoun says this landscape of young male programmers and engineers is a bit like “one big frat.” These boys may be great at coding and kegging, but many are still brushing up on their life skills.
Enter Bro Meals, yet another foray into the juncture of tech and food. It’s a meal delivery service loaded with the meats and carbs your mom cooks when you’re home on winter break.
The idea was spawned by one of Zaytoun’s siblings, a Food Network junkie with lousy kitchen skills. For Christmas and other holidays, she would stock his fridge with big batches of made-from-scratch comfort foods.
Her brother loved it, and Zaytoun’s boyfriend followed suit. She started loading her beau with pre-made meals when she’d leave town, to prevent him from starving to death or eating decorative candles.
Last year, Zaytoun had a flash of inspiration: Why not cook for San Francisco’s legions of foundering man-children? She figured — rightly, as it turns out — that these guys would pony up for home-cooked meals delivered right to their doorsteps.
She peddles her wares through a startup (surprise, surprise) called Zaarly, an online marketplace of wacky personal services. You can snag a wine expert consultation, personalized beach yoga, made-to-order bow ties or coffee service from a pro barista.
In just four or five months, Bro Meals has become the site’s top seller.
You can be as choosy as you like, asking Zaytoun to whip you up some biryani or a souffle, but keep in mind that she’s not a pro cook. Stay in the bounds of down-home American cookery, and you’ll probably fare better.
She offers a la carte options, but the big seller is a week’s worth of meals. I took the “surprise me” route and ended up with cheese ravioli, chicken parm, chicken noodle soup, chicken potpie, an asparagus-Gruyere tart and mozzarella-stuffed meatball sliders. Bro!
If I had to pick an adjective, I’d say “solid.” You shouldn’t expect jazzy renditions made with San Francisco flair.
It’s rib-sticking classics all the way, better than your dorm’s dining hall but not quite as good as mom.
The ravioli came in a pleasant homemade marinara, with fresh pasta made by Zaytoun’s brother (he’s a chef at Maverick). The same sauce doused the tender, panko-crusted chicken Parmesan, made with shockingly big breasts. Insert bro joke here.
The potpie’s roof was tiled with chive-flecked homemade biscuits, a nice touch. I also admired the delicacy of the flaky tart, perhaps Zaytoun’s way of exposing bros to the finer things.
On the other end of the dude spectrum were the bodacious meatball sliders. The big hunks of cheese were decadent, I guess, but gave the sliders an odd squish.
Overall, Bro Meals makes sense. How nice to take a break from crushing code all day to heat up some chicken soup and eat a couple sliders. Zaytoun is like the den mother for The City’s wayward tech boys. Just don’t expect her to do the dishes.
Someone else on Zaarly will take care of that.