Eating, easy: Dinner at Home takes away the work

It's the plight of many a harried family: how to provide healthy meals while juggling the demands of jobs, school, sports, and other time-devouring extracurriculars. Enter Ashley East, a former personal chef who founded her catering company, Dinner at Home, back in 2003 and has recently seen her business expand thanks to a commercial kitchen she's installed in a West Market Street storefront.

"The location is awesome," exclaims East, a tall and willowy runner and cyclist, who moved the business in November into the former Ananda alternative treatment space adjacent to the Artful Lodger furniture store.

East, who earned her culinary certificate from Cookery at the Grange in Somerset England and trained under chefs at local upscale restaurants including Clifton Inn, now works alongside her husband and business partner, Carter, to cater events ranging from intimate lunches to 200-guest weddings. But the dinner-to-go service has really taken off.

Foot traffic from Vinegar Hill theatergoers has helped boost the customer base to about 80 people who receive weekly emailed menus from which they can order two, three, or four nights of meals for up to five people. Admittedly, this is no drive-thru priced dinner, as two nights of dinner-for-two cost $90, and three nights of dinner-for-four would set you back $216.

Still, East points out, it's comparable cost-wise to dining out, and her own background as an athlete means she's focused on putting health first, with ingredients often sourced through local farms and the Local Food Hub.

A weekly menu is emailed on Friday, with typical menus offering a chicken, fish, beef, and vegetarian choice. Those who want to try out a single night can place a Monday order for Wednesday pick-up, when one-offs are allowed and the meals are slightly more adventurous.

The service has been especially popular as a gift for new parents, the Easts say, and while some customers do the full four-days-a-week service, others are sporadic, ordering only when the going gets particularly rough at home.

And for those would-be customers watching their diets for weight or other health issues, the Easts can provide nutritional breakdown of the menus, which Carter describes as "clean, simple, and healthy."

"We want people to try it," says East.








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