How to become a gourmet chef in under 30 minutes

Tilapia Tacos | Madison & Rayne

Tilapia Tacos to die for!

It’s no secret that great ingredients, an even better recipe, and the skills to take it all from farm to table factor into an amazing meal. Even more of a issue, for me, is finding time to gather ingredients and recipes to cook for just myself.

Though there have been improvements in serving sizes, most gourmet options are not made for individuals. It’s a small wonder I prefer to dine out or order in.

Happily, there’s a solution: ready-to-cook meals from Madison & Rayne.

Ingredients are laid out | Madison & Rayne

Ingredients laid out in advance.

The concept is simple. Log onto the site, choose the meals and the number of servings that are needed, and Madison & Rayne will deliver the ingredients and instructions to your doorstep.

Each recipe arrives with color coded with recipe cards. The ingredients are packed together and labeled with their step in the recipe. All that’s required is standard kitchen equipment, salt & pepper, and cooking oil. And, of course, a little skill.

Fortunately Madison & Rayne provides thorough instructions, tips for success, and if all else fails, a phone number to call during prime dinner prep hours if you really need help.

Cue Cards | Madison & Rayne

Step by step instructions for a fabulous meal.

Madison & Rayne isn’t the only ready-to-cook provider in Chicago. However, they do a few things to set their service apart.

Their recipe selection service is extremely flexible. Unlike some services, you can order a single serving of a dish, or opt to have a vegetarian version of the same meal. They also explicitly say what the substitution will be for vegetarian meals, which I really appreciate.

They separate selections into seasonal recipes, regular recipes, and a la carte options like salad, bread, or cookies. Allergy and dietary restrictions are managed through the check-out process.

They also set themselves apart by hand-delivering your recipe selections. Repeat customers are encourage to return the tote, containers, and gel packs. I can get behind any effort to reduce, reuse, and recycle!

Flatiron Steak | Madison & Rayne

Flatiron Steak with will-it-waffle pop-overs.

How did the recipes turn out?

Well, the one thing that Madison & Rayne didn’t make explicit on their site was the type of equipment each recipe would require. A part of each recipe required an oven, and sadly mine wasn’t working.

However, my waffle iron worked just fine.

I used my waffle iron to to make crispy tortilla chips and curious-looking pop-overs. Will it waffle? Oh yes, it will. I made other recipe modifications using the stove top, and everything came out delicious and reasonably presentable. I didn’t even need to call the number.

Everything tasted so good, especially the pork loin with mushroom spaetzle, and the flatiron steak with sprouts.

Pork Loin | Madison & Rayne

Fool-proof pork loin.

Even with my improvisations, each dinner really did take less than 30 minutes. I had tilapia tacos, the boyfriend had flatiron steak, and everyone was made happy with little extra fuss or unused ingredients wasting away in the refrigerator.

The meals averaged out to $15 per person, which is a little more than comparable services but much better and tastier than delivery.

If you’re ready to become a gourmet star in your own kitchen, why wait? Madison & Rayne is ready to help.

I was not financially compensated for this post. This service was provided to me as a member of the media. The opinions are completely my own, based on my experience.

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