Becky Keen's pre-prepared meals business is going from strength to strength in Whangarei.

Keen Kitchen which Becky set up last year with husband Tate offers freshly prepared gourmet meals every Wednesday.

The meals can be eaten right away or frozen for convenience. Their extensive menu
includes gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, vegan and plenty of paleo options.

Meals can be delivered or are available for pick-up late on Wednesday afternoons.

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The couple got the idea for the venture from a friend of Tate's in the US who has a company providing gourmet, restaurant quality meals delivered to homes on Wednesdays.

"Whenever we visit Tate's family we get these meals every week and couldn't get over what a great idea it was.

"We decided to jump straight in and see if the idea would take off here in Whangarei and it did," Becky said, who is originally from the UK.

"We didn't have the resources or desire at that time to open a café or restaurant and saw this as an opportunity to start our dream whilst keeping it small and easily manageable with not too many overheads etc."

Tate, 35, from Louisiana in the US, has been a chef for 20 years and Becky, 27, who grew up in hospitality with her parents owning a pub, later went on to do mainly café management and barista work.

Both are massive foodies, but were often underwhelmed when they got takeaways or ate out, and thought Whangarei was crying out for another really great option.

The couple, who met while backpacking in Hawaii, moved to New Zealand in 2013 and started working in the hospitality scene but had a desire to be self-employed.

They started serving Wednesday dinners in March 2016. Recently the Keens have extended their self-employed dream, buying the Airport cafe with another couple - who are best friends - reopening it in September as The Apron.

Becky said the philosophy driving Keen Kitchen is wanting to give customers really good, delicious food which is not always that easy to find.

"We make everything from scratch, full of flavour and put a lot of love and hard work into it," she said.

Becky said it was surprisingly easy to start up the business.

"We put it off for a long time because people told us it would be hard to get up and running but when we started looking into it we realised that was not the case.

"We got our home kitchen certified which was relatively simple.

"Because of our previous experience in kitchens, we were familiar with practising the correct health and safety and already knew how to stay on top of the necessary paperwork," she said.

The name came next, bank account, company registration and business insurance and they got started.

"Our food is wholesome, homemade restaurant-quality meals delivered straight to your doorstep.

"We have had nothing but super positive feedback on everything we have served to date," Becky said.

Becky said anyone can make a lasagne and freeze it but the couple's combined experience and skills makes a difference.

"We know how to get heaps of flavour into dishes. We use as much local produce as possible and always fresh fish and fresh, local meat. We smoke our own fish, make all our own sauces, spice blends."

The Keens also like to do a lot of Southern-inspired food like ribs, pulled pork and fried chicken. They have done markets all over during the summer and the Matariki festival, serving up chicken and waffles.

Side dishes are always exciting. Rather than just doing roast potatoes and steamed veg with everything, customers get barbecue baked beans, creamed leeks, dauphinois potatoes and walnut stuffed kumara.

"We like to mix it up," Becky said.

Last year they did Thanksgiving dinner at The Butter Factory for over 90 people serving up deep fried turkey, cranberry sauce, Southern gravy and pumpkin pie. They plan to do it again this year.

Keen Kitchen caters for everybody and is also working with Breast Cancer Northland delivering meals to women referred to them.