Judith Winfrey has deep roots in the local farm community, a connection that has propelled her to success as president of Atlanta-based meal kit delivery service PeachDish. The 43-year-old Grant Park resident has even been a farmer herself (she and husband Joe Reynolds have Love Is Love Farm at Gaia Gardens in Decatur, though Reynolds runs it now). Driving the company’s “farm to kitchen” model, she oversees the development of 30,000 meals delivered each month to home cooks in the 48 continental United States. This year alone, Winfrey anticipates that PeachDish will purchase 700,000 pounds of vegetables, 90% of which are organic, and many come from Georgia farmers. Here, she shares the scoop on PeachDish’s not-so-secret sauce.
With such a varied background, what drew you to PeachDish?
I was just intrigued by the model because I have roots in agriculture. I saw it as an exciting opportunity for small and mid-size farms to reach more people. I know so many growers around the Southeast, and I was watching these meal kits were starting to happen. I was hearing from farmers in other areas that some of the meal kit businesses were taking away market share. I felt PeachDish was a good opportunity to make it viable for small and mid-size farms, too.
How have you shaped the business model since coming on board in 2014?
I’ve made it a little more food focused. I wanted PeachDish to compete, first and foremost, on quality of recipes and ingredients, and making sure there was a lot of provenance to the food. Every week the kit comes with a letter from me naming all of the farms that we bought from. Plus, we now offer tremendous choice and flexibility with at least nine different recipes every week.
What sets PeachDish apart from its competition?
The quality of our food, recipes and our customer service, and the fact that we have a registered dietician on staff. Plus, the fact that we’re Southern. We’re not heavy-handed Southern, but we definitely celebrate Southern ingredients and dishes. You work with a lot of Atlanta based purveyors and artisan makers.
Why is that important?
Well, freshness and quality are important, but local economy is important, too. So we want to support as many small local businesses and farms as possible. When you spend money in your local economy, it stays in your economy longer, and we like supporting those kinds of businesses, like Beautiful Briny Sea, Cacao, King of Pops and Preserving Place.
What does a collaboration with a local maker look like for PeachDish?
We did a make-your-own peach basil popsicle kit with King of Pops. That was a big hit. And with Preserving Place, we did a strawberry tart dessert kit that used a strawberry jam that they made special for us. PeachDish has a pretty robust online store, beyond the meal kits themselves. It really developed out of customer demand. We have customers from all over the country who loved the products in our kits and wanted to know how they could get more. It’s an opportunity to showcase the quality products we use and spotlight great Southern chefs. We have a guest chef program with restaurant chefs such as Zeb Stevenson (Watershed), Steven Satterfield (Miller Union) and Terry Koval (Wrecking Bar) writing recipes for us. If they have a cookbook, we feature it.
Are your customers using PeachDish as a way to increase their culinary competency?
There’s definitely a culinary education aspect, even for me! I cook the dishes every week, and I’ve learned techniques and ingredient combinations I might not have thought of before. I think that’s true for a lot of people. People get a sense of empowerment from preparing these dishes.
STORY: Jennifer Bradley Franklin
PHOTO: Sara Hanna