Too busy to cook gourmet meals? Too overwhelmed to stick with a diet? Concerned that a diet will mean missing out on great food? For all of these nutritional concerns and more, there is an easy solution in Zone Manhattan, New York City’s longest-running healthy meal delivery service.
In a few words, Zone Manhattan is essentially a diet-to-your-doorstep. The company offers ready-made chef prepared meals, as delivered fresh daily to each customer’s door. Ingredients are purchased daily at the Hunts Point Terminal Market and the New Fulton Fish Market, and every meal is crafted specifically for each individual customer. Dietary needs can be accommodated, whether the customer is gluten-free, paleo, sugar-free, vegan or vegetarian.
Zone Manhattan founder Steve Lindner is a chef by trade and has been in the food and beverage business for more than 30 years. He was schooled at the famed Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York before working at notable hotspots like Aureole, Aquavit, Sign Of The Dove and An American Place. He was also the proprietor of the Greenwich spot Café Alyss, which he had opened in 2000. Zone Manhattan was launched in 2005, and now delivers to all five boroughs of Manhattan, Westchester, Northern New Jersey, Long Island and Southern Connecticut. Expansion plans are underway to create Zone Los Angeles, Zone San Diego, Zone Miami, as well as Zone Vancouver.
Rumor has it that you are at the Hunts Point Food Market every day picking out food. Is that true?
Steve Lindner: Yes, we pick the freshest ingredients daily to use in our meals for customers.
What do you think the Hunts Point Food Market offers that others do not?
Steve Lindner: Variety, quality, consistency and value. When you say “others,” as far as I know you would have to go to Philly or Boston to find something that compares to Hunts Point. In the Hunts Point area, not only do you have access to some of the freshest fruits and vegetables, you have the whole world of fresh fish and seafood. Yes there are chic micro markets bi-weekly around town. And yes we do frequent those as well to source local produce, but Hunts Point gives us the ability to operate at large volumes and at the highest level of quality on a daily basis.
Where did the idea for Zone Manhattan come from? Had you offer ordered food from restaurants online?
Steve Lindner: Necessity. I needed a job in 2004. So I took my knowledge of the restaurant business and applied it to food delivery. At the time, food delivery was just in its infancy. We didn’t offer online delivery at Café Alyss. We just weren’t tech-savvy enough at that time. We didn’t even have a website.
You studied at the Culinary Institute Of America. How did you wind up working at the Bayerischer hof Munchen in Munich?
Steve Lindner: Yes, I attended the Culinary Institute Of America and shortly after graduating, I traveled to Europe. I was hitchhiking around Europe when I ran out of money and knew of some other culinary graduates that were working in Munich. I was fortunate enough to get a job with them.
Is there anything you miss about living and working in Germany?
Steve Lindner: I enjoyed my time there and loved the culture of Europe, but no, I don’t miss it.
Steve Lindner: Yes, the level of competition is on steroids here. There is an energy that exists in New York City that doesn’t exist elsewhere. Now, I believe the culinary competition and quality is at a very high level from coast to coast. However, in this industry, that is constantly evolving with new technology and innovations, New York City still stands out as the culinary mecca of the world.
You also owned Café Alyss some years back. Is there anything you miss about owning and operating a restaurant?
Steve Lindner: Sure, direct contact with the customers, and the energy and excitement of the restaurant business. And then I realize I have to pay bills and don’t miss it as all.
Beyond picking out the food every day, what’s a typical day like for you in running Zone Manhattan? How much time are you actually in a kitchen?
Steve Lindner: After 12 years in business and continual growth, I oversee all aspects of the business. Yes, I am directly involved with the selection and quality control of the food and meals, but I also have loyal and reliable chefs and staff to oversee the production.
Of the Zone menu, do you have a favorite entree?
Steve Lindner: I love our rack of lamb and lobster dishes and what we do with salmon is amazing. It all relies on the quality and freshness of the produce we select every day. I thinks what we do is the simplest form of cooking. We are selecting the highest quality product and extracting the most flavor from the fish, meat, vegetables and fruit without using salt, sugar and fat.
Steve Lindner: Clean, fresh and delicious.
Is it true that Zone plans on expanding beyond New York City?
Steve Lindner: Yes, growth to other markets is always the goal.
When not busy with Zone Manhattan, how do you like to spend your free time?
Steve Lindner: I love to ski, sail and I am a “car guy.”
Aside from Zone, do you have a favorite restaurant in New York?
Steve Lindner: The restaurant scene in New York City is in constant flux. To pick one to be my favorite would be a crime. My tastes change like the weather. One day I am feeling a pork taco from Taco Primo from Chelsea Market or Crispy Chicken Sandwich from FUKU and the next it may be high end from Gabriel Kreuther. One thing is for sure is next year it will be different. The only thing that doesn’t change is the level of quality.
Do you have tickets to any upcoming concerts or events?
Steve Lindner: My wife Alyssa loves the shows and I love the restaurants in the area. A Bronx Tale is the next show on our list and we will be eating at Aureole.
Finally, Steve, any last words for the kids?
Steve Lindner: Eat healthy and exercise.