Lee Wallach moved to southern Delaware when he was in middle school. During the family’s second summer, they were eating at RedFin in Bethany Beach when he told his parents he planned to stay at the beach and find a job.
He was 14 and his first job was as a bus boy at RedFin, which later became Matt Haley’s flagship restaurant, Bluecoast.
“I was with Matt and the team until I was 21, coming back each summer to work in the restaurant,” Wallach says. “I remember one summer, the fry cook didn’t show up, so the chef asked who could do the job. I volunteered and I sort of never looked back.”
It was Haley who told Wallach not to focus on going to culinary school. “He told me that it wasn’t necessary in order to become a great chef,” Wallach recalls.
Wallach followed that advice and instead attended The George Washington University. “I wasn’t sure about college, but having that degree really opened doors for me,” he says. He later landed a job with Hillstone Restaurant Group, a national chain. But the hours were taking a toll on Wallach and his wife. They were ready to build a family and knew they couldn’t do it with Wallach’s long hours. He got lucky and connected with a family on the Main Line in Philadelphia. The family was looking for a personal chef, and Wallach fit the bill.
“Cooking for a client in their home made me nervous at first. The family was great to me, and they really allowed me to transition to being a personal chef,” Wallach says. He eventually was able to expand the business and hire additional chefs while working on a food delivery concept that became Home Appétit. Wallach launched the business in 2014 and had great momentum from the start. When the pandemic hit, the growth accelerated even more.
Home Appétit offers chef-prepared gourmet meals that are packaged and delivered to your door. Each week, customers go to the website and select four small plates and four entrees. Then they receive the meals, which are expertly packed to preserve freshness and taste, at their home. People can also order add-ons such as children’s meals of macaroni and cheese, steamed broccoli or chicken quesadilla with rice. Other add-ons could be extra meat for the week, sauces and salads.
In the winter, a favorite salad was the chopped veggie detox salad with broccoli, cabbage, carrots, golden raisins and sunflower seeds in a ginger-lemon dressing. Soups and baked goods are also regularly on the menu.
“Everything we do, we do with intent,” says Wallach, who started the business out of his apartment, but purchased a commercial kitchen in 2020. “We want customers to have an exceptional experience.”
Menu favorites include lamb kofta, shawarma, tofu bowls, turkey burgers and pasta dishes. Each entrée can be paired with a salad or grain.
Wallach focuses on packaging meals so they will be just as fresh on Thursday as they were on Monday. This means sauces are packed separately from pasta so the pasta doesn’t turn soggy. Each meal comes with a recommended way to reheat (tip: a toaster oven is a great option).
Home Appétit started out in Philadelphia but has since expanded to areas of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. At the time of writing, Wallach was delivering from Wilmington to Hockessin. He has plans to expand during summer months to deliver food to customers at the beaches. After seven years, Wallach’s customers are loyal. Two of his very first customers are still customers today.
As many restaurants face shortages and increased costs, Wallach has been able to keep his costs stable because he sources his ingredients from local growers with whom he has had relationships for years.
“We bring in whole chickens and use every part, so we don’t have to rely on getting just certain cuts for our meals,” he says. “It is just one of the ways we focus on the details.”
Ready to try it out? You can place your first order here.