We had the opportunity to speak with Kelly Boyer, the founder and CEO of PALETA, to get some more insight on her company and her journey to success!
Tell us a little bit about your background, how food became a part of your life, and how the idea was sparked to create a door-to-door meal service like PALETA.
I started PALETA out of my very own kitchen in 2005. My initial concept was to deliver clients a healthy twist on haute cuisine using ingredients sourced from local farms, cruelty-free ranches, and responsible fisheries. As a survivor of late-stage terminal cancer, I had a simple, but lofty, mission: Introduce the world to a HEALTHIER lifestyle!
The ultimate impetus for PALETA was a very personal one. Immediately after graduation from college my life changed in a sudden and unexpected way. I was diagnosed with a rare, advanced form of terminal ovarian cancer. I was only 21 years old and was given a year or two at the most to live and the best doctors could hope for was to make me comfortable during that time. With the love and support of my family and friends, WE beat it, and it changed the course of my life forever. I learned to focus more on body, mind and overall health. Most importantly, I learned to enjoy the everyday experience of total body fitness.
Life gratefully marched on and I dove in headfirst by moving from my home state of Michigan to Chicago for a new start. I worked full-time, attended school in the evening and then graduated with honors from Northwestern University’s masters program in Business and Organizational Development. I then became a Human Resources executive at notable Fortune 100 companies, but spent my tenure at the heart of building within these organizations. I was part of the global expansion of The Disney Stores; at Capitol Records I worked on the creation of a new licensing division; at start-up internet company GeoCities, I led the HR function, taking the company through an IPO, and assisting in our ultimate acquisition by Yahoo!. Building things really drives me. Even while working up the corporate ladder, I have always been an entrepreneur at heart!
I eventually left corporate America to explore the world a bit and figure out what’s next, which turned out to be enrolling in the Le Cordon Bleu culinary arts program where I graduated with honors in 2005. I had put on a few unwanted pounds and was not feeling great as a result of my classic French cuisine training and decided to apply the techniques I learned in the kitchen to create more healthful fare for myself…at first. Soon friends started asking what I was doing and why I was looking better and seemed to have so much more energy. They started asking me to cook for them, then referred me to their friends, relatives, physicians, personal trainers, and so on. I quickly ramped up and started PALETA out of my very own kitchen and my passion project became my life’s calling. For me, life revolves around food. Food is love, energy, happiness, and health. Food should be EXCITING…ever when you’re eating healthy! That’s why I created PALETA – to share this experience with my clients. The very definition of “PALETA” is to make healthy eating an art form. My passion is to please your palate (“tastebuds”) and to create food as a form of art where the plate is my artist’s palette.
What do you find is the most popular meal plan? Is it the juicing cleanses or more the healthy meals for busy people?
The PALETA MARKET MENU is, by far, our most popular and economical plan. Clients have options to eat Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo, Gluten-Free and more! Market Menu means that the menu offerings are designed based on seasonal availability of ingredients and they trust us to deliver them delicious and nutritious food. We also offer a more customized PERFECT PLATE program, which allows people to eliminate dislikes. This plan is becoming less popular as we are now offering a larger variety of more price-conscious MARKET MENU plans to meet the needs of vegans, vegetarians, and those with gluten sensitivities. We are 98% gluten/dairy/soy free, and of course no refined sugar. So, since we’re offering a wide variety of options, people can be confident knowing they’ll get what they need AND want.
Our certified organic PRESSED JUICE DETOXES and PURIFY CLEANSE meal and shake programs are also extremely popular, but we view them as a supplement to your healthy lifestyle, not a replacement. They can and should be repeated frequently to detoxify your system because we have a constant onslaught of environmental toxins coming at us and polluting our bodies. By making the Detoxes and Cleanses part of your life, you help stay ahead of the toxic build-up. In today’s world, it’s really hard to do that with food intake alone.
Why do you think there is a need in our society right now for these types of delivery services that are becoming so popular worldwide?
Our world is moving so very fast and we are inundated with so much information it’s really hard for people to sift through. People in general want (and need) more time for themselves and their families so spending a lot of time planning your meals, shopping, cooking, and then cleaning up after all of that becomes arduous. We want to spend that time ENJOYING the meal with our people, not in the kitchen. When it comes to health, people in general want to do the right thing, but often don’t know where to begin. We often consider ourselves a launching pad for a better way to live. If you can learn about appropriate portion control, clean eating and sustainable ingredients and apply that to your life, I consider it a job well done on our part.
How has PALETA changed from where it started to where it is now?
Today, we’ve become a positive force from coast to coast. Home to Southern California’s first certified green kitchen, we provide designer meal services, PURIFY CLEANSES, organic cold-pressed juices and PALETA POTION cocktail elixirs, and POWER UP healthy snacks throughout California, and select areas of Arizona and Nevada. We also ship our popular PURIFY CLEANSE, PRESSED Juice Detoxes & POTIONS, and POWER UP snacks nationwide. We have grown from a little family-owned and operated business to a much grander scale than I ever anticipated or hoped for. It was almost by accident!
For me the key is that ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL. Daily meal delivery is not what everyone needs or wants to look and feel their best. We’ve modified programs considerably to acknowledge the evolution of nutrition and people’s wants. Some people prefer a vegan diet, some prefer Paleo, many of our clients are pregnant so our Pregnancy program takes them through all 3 trimesters and even Body After Baby. I love that we can address the unique nutritional needs of Mommy and her precious cargo. Because we ALL need food, my options for creating new things are endless!
How do you come up with your extensive meal plan per week when there are so many different food sensitivities and diets? How do you please everyone?
This is the most fun and challenging part of my job. Because I am a LIVE TO EAT person, food is a fascination for me. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not researching recipes and getting inspired by restaurants and other chefs I admire. I can’t flip through a magazine or glance at a menu and not thing, “HEY! My clients would love a healthy version of that!” I love converting less-than-optimal recipes to stealthy-healthy versions of themselves. One of my favorite creations is a super clean version of a Chicken Potpie. We eliminate the dairy and gluten and significantly reduce the fat and make a flaky sweet potato crust that is a favorite at PALETA. It’s loaded with beautiful vegetables that change with the seasons. I easily convert this to another VEGAN version by replacing the chicken with a variety of wild mushrooms for a savory umami plant-based option. It’s better than my Grandma’s recipe! But, don’t tell her that!
Have you had any crazy stories along the way?
Hmmm…there are plenty, but my favorite was in the very beginning. I used to do everything by myself. I created the menu and recipes, did the shopping, cooking, cleaning, packaging, and even delivered the meals myself by driving around at 2am with my dog by my side as I raced up people’s driveways in the middle of the night to drop off their cooler bags. One night a major celebrity opened the front door while I was placing the bag on the stoop and I looked up to see a stark naked person staring me straight in the eye as if this was the most normal thing in the world. GULP! (And, no, it wasn’t Tammin!)
So when I sign up to PALETA, tell me what the process is for getting started.
Just a few simple steps! You can either go to our website, www.paleta.com, or call our Concierge Team at 855.EAT.PALETA to get some personal assistance if you need help honing in on the right plan for you.
-You need to determine what TYPE of food you want to receive; for instance, vegetarian, or gluten-free, or paleo, or just simply our seasonally market driven, nutritionally balanced menu using local fresh ingredients.
-Then, based on your healthy goals, you decide HOW MUCH you want to receive. If you’re trying to lose weight, you may choose our FIT plan; if you’re highly active and trying to build muscle mass, you’d like to choose our PERFORMANCE plan.
-Next, you tell us HOW OFTEN you want to receive our service. We are incredibly flexible so clients can receive and entire day of meals and snacks, or just the odd meal and snack on any given day. We also never require clients to order every day. If you want 1 day of meals a week because that particular day is very hectic for you, but you like to cook for yourself or eat out the rest of the week, we’ll happily service you.
-Finally, you just wake up on the morning of your first delivery and pick your package off your doorstep and you’re ready to go!
Where do you see yourself in ten years according to the growth of your company? What’s the plan for PALETA in the near future?
We will continue to move past JUST meal delivery to create a wide range of products to touch many aspects of people’s lives. For instance, we created our line of POWER UP snacks for convenience of on-the-go CLEAN snacking. I was committed to using ONLY all-natural ingredients you can actually pronounce. I created a line of organic cocktail mixers call POTIONS. I wanted to replace those old-school sugary, syrupy mixers with something light, clean and actually healthy!
We have definite plans for increased national expansion and are considering opening kitchens on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Retail storefronts are also on the docket so people anywhere can run in for grab ‘n go healthy options to replace the fast-food drive-through.
We are working hard to provide our clients with more REAL-TIME delivery service options, as well. Soon our clients will be able to order meals and snacks and have them delivered to their doorstep within the HOUR and not just overnight. My focus is on increased accessibility for our discerning clientele. And, of course, I’ll never stop developing new meal programs and products to keep up with the evolution of nutrition trends to make sure we are always on the forefront of what is new and BEST for our clients’ lives.
It’s also important to note we will continue to focus on sustainability and protecting our planet. We built the first certified green commercial kitchen in SoCal and work hard every day to preserve our earth’s resources. We even plant trees with your purchase to completely negate our carbon footprint. This is the only planet we have so far! I want to take care of it for future generations!
What do you find to be the most rewarding part of your job?
By FAR I continue to be buoyed by the changes of our services make in people’s lives. I have countless clients who have shared with me that they are off cholesterol medication for the first time in 25 years, or cancer patients we’ve supported through treatment by our extensive knowledge and experience in dealing with their food sensitivities. I’ve shed many a tear for and with my clients (and their families) helping them get healthier and then rejoicing wit them as their health improves and then obviously the overall quality of their life. It’s not the easiest way to make a living, but the impact we are having on people’s lives drives me and my team to do better every day.