KENNETT SQUARE—“What’s for dinner?” is a question that should inspire joy and anticipation—not stress and dread. Pinwheel Provisions, a cutting-edge concept in food shopping and home meal preparation, inspired by the quality-driven convenience of frozen meal components in Europe, has quick, healthy, and delicious answers to that daily question. Pinwheel Provisions is unique in North America and has just opened—not in New York or LA—but locally in Kennett Square.
“Getting meals on the table at the end of a busy workday that you feel good about, that are healthy, and that please everyone is a challenge,” says Pinwheel Provisions founder Anjali Gupta. “With limited time, crazy schedules, different tastes, and dietary restrictions, it becomes dizzying.”
During visits to France, the UK, and Scandinavia, Gupta noticed that people don’t use take-out and prepared foods as default meal options like they do in the US. She wondered how, with the same challenges and time constraints we have, they feed themselves and their families. When she visited food markets, she was amazed by the popularity, variety, and quality of frozen meals and ingredients. “We tend to turn our noses up at frozen meals, but these flavorful, healthy meals looked like they’d been cooked from scratch,” she says. She also noted the popularity of bulk individually quick frozen (IQF) frozen produce in overseas food markets.
“These items are often harvested and then frozen right at the farm,” she says. “The process maintains the integrity of the food, locking in the nutrients, flavors, and texture. Because fresh food deteriorates so quickly, IQF not only extends the life of food that would otherwise go to waste, but IQF items are also often more nutritious than what is available ‘fresh’ at the grocery store. The IQF frozen produce at these markets is sold washed, prepped, and ready to use—completely eliminating the time-consuming and tedious prep work that most meals require in addition to minimizing food spoilage and waste.”
Gupta was so struck by these two staples—quality fresh frozen meals and being able to buy only what you need of frozen ingredients—that she wanted to bring this way of shopping and cooking to this country. And so Pinwheel Provisions was born. The concept is unique but simple. It’s like the bulk section at a store like Whole Foods, but with frozen products.
Or, Gupta says, “it’s like a frozen farmers market, where you select the quantity and combination of locally harvested products you buy.” Pinwheel’s tagline, “just what you need,” says it all. Customers buy only what they need to make meals with quality local ingredients and little or no packaging waste. “When you need a quarter cup of peas for a recipe, you don’t have to buy the two-pound bag that then gathers ice crystals in your freezer,” she says. “It’s beneficial from a nutritional standpoint, but it also makes sense ecologically and economically.” Customers can bring their own containers and bags or use (and re-use) Pinwheel’s sturdy, food-grade freezer bags.
Gupta and her husband live in Lower Merion and have an eleven-year-old son, who is her top taste tester. “He has a very good palate—and he’s very honest about what he likes and doesn’t like,” she says. She’s always loved gathering family and friends around the table over a good meal, and she has a deep-rooted culinary heritage as well.
Gupta’s brother is the General Manager of Reading Terminal Market, and their parents own Jyoti Natural Foods in Sharon Hill. Jyoti’s authentic Indian ready-to-eat food and sauces are distributed nationally and in Canada—and they’re also available as Mealmakers at Pinwheel Provisions.
Gupta is a dedicated gardener and has always loved Kennett Square. “Longwood Gardens is a place I always came to recharge,” she says. She looked at a variety of locations for the first Pinwheel Provisions pop-up this fall and chose Kennett Square because she was impressed with the diverse population of people here who love good food and are also environmentally conscious. She also found Geoff Bosley, owner of the Market at Liberty Place, to be very receptive and flexible. “It’s a great fit for us,” she says.
Pinwheel Provision’s expert team includes Chef Katy O’Gara, who does a cooking demonstration every Saturday and is excited to help guide customers on how to use and combine products. Chase Obenchain, a CIA-trained chef, created the ready meals, which include Indian Butter Chicken and Smoky Black Bean Chili. In keeping with the philosophy of offering quality ingredients to make meals as quick, easy, and delicious as possible, Pinwheel offers a variety of value-added items such as grilled eggplant and fire-roasted onion and pepper strips as well as a range of “Mealmakers” including pastas and grains, sauces, marinades, and spice kits by artisan producers.
Gupta is planning a dedicated retail space where she’ll be able to offer a broader array of products as well as online shopping and home delivery. “Customers will be able to enter their information and receive suggested product combinations and recipes based on the preferences and needs of their household that will make it quick and easy for them to put meals on the table that everyone will enjoy.” For now, Pinwheel Provisions is setting up its pop-up shop every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through November 16th at the Market at Liberty Place. Cooking demonstrations at 1 p.m. every Saturday show people how they can use Pinwheel products to get great meals on the table in under 30 minutes. Gupta encourages visitors to come by the pop-up to sample dishes, view cooking demos, and pick up the makings for a meal for the evening or the week ahead.
Find more information at their website: pinwheelprovisions.com. Follow Pinwheel @PinwheelProvisions on Instagram and Facebook for recipes and promotions.