PARK SLOPE — Too busy to cook delicious meals at home? Intimidated by playing chef in your own kitchen? Your list of excuses just got shorter.
The newly opened Walk-In Cookbook on Seventh Avenue and Berkeley Place cuts the time commitment and guess work out of cooking at home.
The store is true to its name. Customers walk in, browse through a list of 18 recipes posted on the wall, choose one, then buy pre-measured amounts of the ingredients to make the meal for two people. Each recipe comes with an instructional card and step-by-step photos. The price per person and an estimate of how long it takes to cook are posted with each dish.
"We're trying to streamline the entire process of home cooking — the idea is to get people cooking again," said co-owner Filip Nuytemans.
The line-up of meals includes dinners, salads, and starter courses. They range from quick and simple ($11-per-person fish tacos that take 20 minutes) to more elaborate meals such as a beef tenderloin with potato risotto for $18 per person and 40 minutes.
Some recipes are designed for first-time cooks with no kitchen experience, others are for more adventurous chefs who want to try something new.
Shoppers can pick up all the produce, meat and spices they need to make a fresh-cooked meal in a matter of minutes, and they don't have to worry about buying items such as a full bunch of cilantro when a recipe calls for just a half a tablespoon.
Nuytemans and his partner chose to open the store in Park Slope because the neighborhood is full of busy professionals who want to make their own meals, but can't fit it into their schedules.
"We have a lot of young people here that work hard in the city and don't have time to cook or go to the grocery store," Nuytemans said.
The store is also ideal for cooks who want to experiment with a new dish but don't want to commit to the full size — and price — of more obscure ingredients.
"It would probably cost you a lot of money to make this if you had to buy all of the ingredients in the sizes offered in the grocery store," Nuytemans said, referring to the store's Moroccan lamb tagine recipe. For that dish, the store supplies stamp-sized packets of ras el hanout, a North African spice, tiny tubs of honey, and just the right amount of couscous for two.
Nuytemans, 29, was inspired to open The Walk-In Cookbooks after several years working for the multi-national food company Nestlé. A bioengineer with a business degree, he traveled around the world evaluating Nestlé's supply chain and eating out almost every night.
The experience left him sick of restaurant food, and wanting to cook more at home. But he realized that he needed some help in the kitchen because he'd never learned how to cook.
Nuytemans is hoping The Walk-In Cookbook will empower timid, time-crunched home cooks to make meals at home more often.
"So many people [my] age didn't have that background of learning how to cook," Nuytemans said. "I wanted to bring that back for people. I don't want us to get to the point where no one cooks anymore and we only have restaurant food."