Beyond sad frozen meals and the pricey selection of items under grocery store heat lamps, good prepared food is hard to find. Montreal entrepreneur Etienne Plourde founded WeCook because he recognized a void in the market, a demand for fresh prepared meals that’s as good for the body as they are for the taste buds.
“The idea was to build a business around home-delivered prepared meals that are as healthy as they are tasty,” says Plourde. “The vision is to offer a great meal with high quality ingredients that’s also affordable.”
Plourde started out in the business nearly a decade ago, offering high-protein meals through gyms and other fitness institutions. The health food industry in Quebec, and by extension widespread health consciousness, was only starting to grow in 2012, when Plourde founded Nutrition Fit Plus — the company that was rebranded to become WeCook last year, expanding to make balanced meals that appeal to just about everyone. These days, eating habits have changed to the point where even menus conceived by renowned Montreal restaurateurs who used to focus on decadence have evolved to reflect a demand for healthy food.
And yet WeCook, stands almost alone in the field. “There’s not a lot of competition in Canada,” says Plourde, explaining that those that do exist tend to operate very locally in their regions. “They have a tough time developing their business because it’s a very hard industry. It’s nothing like cooking in a restaurant or cooking at home — it’s a very specific way of cooking food.
“You have to keep your prepared meal fresh, sometimes for up to 10 days without any additives or bad products. It’s all fresh, it’s all natural, through a special way of cooking and packaging the product,” he adds. (WeCook meals can be refrigerated for up to a week and frozen for up to two months.)
Despite the perceived upsurge in homecooking during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, and the spate of cooking-for-dummies meal-kit companies (which are marketed as healthy when that isn’t always the case, Plourde notes), WeCook taps into what Plourde and his partners recognize as an unspoken reality:
“Most people don’t really enjoy cooking,” he says. “Most people cook because they need to eat, and even people who enjoy cooking might enjoy it three or five times a week, but who really loves to cook 21 times a week? It’s pretty rare.”
WeCook changes their menu weekly, offering a wide range of prepared meals based on each client’s dietary needs or preferences. Recent menus have included crab, shrimp, apple and almond salad, salmon fillet with Florentine sauce as vegetarian ragout with spaghetti squash, beef sirloin in pepper sauce with mashed potatoes and asparagus, deer flank in wild mushroom sauce with panisse, and coconut Thai chicken with basmati rice and bok choy. Salads aside, WeCook meals simply need to be reheated in the microwave for roughly two minutes. ■
Next week: We sample seven WeCook meals.
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