Today, in big cities like San Francisco and NYC, you can get just about anything delivered to you. Now, lucky Los Angeles dwellers are enjoying another addition to that list: tasty meals that are not only healthy but seasonal, too, through Kaylee Volpert’s company, Kays-Trays!
When the South Africa native noticed a surprising dearth of these type of delivery options in her Cali hometown, she decided to fill the niche—and quickly. So now, she provides dishes like sea salt roasted sweet potatoes and leafy frittatas to hungry, wellness-focused urbanites. With popularity exploding, Volpert remains intent on quality, time-specific ingredients and her homemade touch. How does she do it? Read on!
SBS: What was your original connection to healthy fare?
Kaylee Volpert: I grew up in Johannesburg in a family where food was a huge part of our life. My mom was always in the kitchen cooking, and I’d watch her make everything from scratch, incorporating tons of fruits and vegetables. That led me to culinary school, where my goal was always to become a chef who created food that wasn’t only delicious, but healthy too. I’m intent on sourcing seasonal vegetables from farmers markets and not using produce that’s shipped here because it’s not in season.
SBS: How did you conceive Kays-Trays?
KV: To fulfill my mission, I became a private chef, working all over the world from India and London to New York and Israel. There was a huge trend of people wanting good, healthy food. So, when I came to LA, some of the surprises were seeing the lack of that type of offering in LA. There are food delivery services, but there wasn’t anything that was as healthy, tasty and homemade tasting as I thought was important. So, immediately, I wanted to get into as many homes as possible. The way to do that? Delivery!
SBS: What does that look like now in Kays-Trays?
KV: I include tons of green veggies, lean proteins and those everyday foods you want to feed yourself and your family. In that way, a large focus is delivering food to new mothers who just had babies and want to get back and shape.
SBS: What did you discover while working as a private chef that you bring to Kays-Trays?
KV: I grew up in a family that ate dinner together every night, but I find that a lot of American families don’t have the time to do that. Unless a mom has help, it’s hard to get food on the table. But when I was a private chef, I found when I could have food on the table every night, families got together and connected. That’s so important to me, and now I can do that with Kays-Trays.
SBS: What are some key things home cooks should have on hand to create healthy, delicious meals?
KV: I always like to have lemon, chicken breasts, a few pieces of seasonal fruit, a bag of kale and avocados. If you have these few key ingredients, you can make salad or hot food, and the lemon is great for using the rind or the juice for dressing.
SBS: What are important spices to have?
KV: I actually prefer really good quality salt, like sea salt from Trader Joe’s and good peppercorn, also from Trader Joe’s. If you use really fresh ingredients, you don’t need a load of spices. So salt and pepper balance it out. I also like fresh ginger or fresh garlic, as well as fresh herbs, but that’s plenty for me.
SBS: What are some challenges you face as a food business owner?
KV: LA is very spread out, and there is a lack of public transportation. So, it’s hard to get a far reach with traffic. I have to think about how I deliver and what market I can tap into. I’d like to deliver to folks in all regions, and while I hate turning people away because of location, at this stage, it’s about taking every delivery as it comes. That means, if the delivery has to be an hour later to be fresh and seasonal that might happen. Down the line, when I have more folks on my team to deliver, we will be able to offer services to people farther away!
At this stage I’m lucky enough to have a gorgeous, big kitchen that I use. I have several people who help me, but I still mainly do all the cooking myself. I’m very particular about the taste of everything coming out and ensuring that someone has the same quality week to week.
Kaylee’s Favorite Seasonal Vegetables:
For Fall: I love broccoli. It makes a great salad either whole or as a slaw. Add sweet cranberries or grapes!
For Winter: Root vegetables, kale and other dark leafy greens are so helpful in the winter when it’s dark out. I also love that root veggies are filling, and when you eat them they are comforting and pleasantly filling. Stay away from fruits like strawberries and berries, which aren’t in season, and enjoy apples and pears instead.
For Spring: Asparagus is great for salads, grilled with sea salt and fresh lemon juice, or for a splurge, try an asparagus tart. Spring is great because there are a lot of wonderful options, like more mushrooms and zucchini blossoms, which start to pop out.
For Summer: This is the best time for every sort of produce. Tomatoes, in particular, make a delicious galette, and corn can be used in chowder, quiche, raw on a salad or grilled with butter and sea salt.
Baked Apples wit Hot Caramel Sauce
1 firm apple
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp finely cut Medjool dates
1 tbsp butter
-Core apple (a melon baller is great for this)
-Mix sugar, cinnamon, raisins and dates
-Stuff the apple core with mixture
-Top mixtures with butter and push it down slightly
-Bake at 320 for 25 to 30 minutes, and enjoy!
With…Easy Caramel sauce
1 C brown sugar
1/2 C half and half
5 tbsp butter
Pinch of salt
-Mix everything in a saucepan over medium heat.
-Once at a boil, whisk for five to six minutes.
Grilled Lamb Chops Over Lekker Salad
1 rack of lamb, sliced in single chops
2 tbsp minced fresh garlic
2 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
5 tbsp good olive oil
-Place everything in a Ziploc bag, and marinade the chops overnight.
-Season the chops while you make sure the barbeque is very hot.
-Sear the lamb for about two minutes on both sides.
-Place lamb on a plate, and let it sit for a minute.
1 handful of kale
1 handful of finely chopped cucumber
1 handful of finely chopped red onion
1 handful of finely chopped dates
-Mix ingredients together and drizzle with Lekker dressing (which you can order from Kays-Trays!).
Kaylee’s LA Favorites:
Healthy Restaurants: The Original Farmers Market at The Grove, Malibu Farm and Go Greek Yogurt
Splurge meal: A juicy burger and shoestring fries
Calming Activity: Movies with my boyfriend in a big sweater!
Nutrition and Wellness Authors: Yotam Ottolenghi, Ina Garten, Julia Child
Fall Snacks: Apples and roasted almonds
Kaylee’s SBS Mantra: Be Fearless is me! I'm a firm believer that you only live once, and you should leave no stone unturned. I never want to look back and think, ‘What if?’