How Maggie Mulvena Pearson Built a Meal Delivery Business Through Difficult Times
It’s no secret that I love food and cooking (obviously). But even foodies like me need a little help sometimes! In the months since we welcomed little Skylar to our family and our freezer meals ran out, it hasn’t always been easy to get dinner on the table, so I was pretty excited when Mike stumbled on Feast & Fettle, a New England-centric meal delivery service that we feel really good about because of the quality of ingredients and well-balanced menus. I am usually a skeptic of these services to be completely honest, but once I tried a few of the dishes he ordered, I was sold and so grateful for the service. From their delicious meals, to their branding and top notch customer service, it’s such a treat to have Feast & Fettle’s founder Maggie Mulvena Pearson with us for this Clean Living Conversation!
Maggie started Feast & Fettle in 2016 with her best friend from high school — who quit her corporate job to join Maggie on the journey! — as her only employee. Two years later, they invited another friend to join them as CEO. The company now employs more than fifty people, though Maggie says they still work as a team of best friends.
Five years in, Feast & Fettle now delivers home-cooked meals on a weekly basis to households of all sizes throughout New England. They offer menus to accommodate every diet and the options are different every week! The meals are ready to go when they arrive and only need to be popped into the microwave for ten minutes or less. Everything is prepared locally with fresh ingredients that are organic and natural whenever possible. All of those ingredients are listed on the menu for each meal, so you know exactly what you’re getting. It’s no wonder I feel good about giving Feast & Fettle’s food to my family!
If you happen to live within Feast & Fettle’s delivery radius, I can’t recommend them enough (discount below) — but even if you don’t, Maggie has a lot to share about food, nutrition, and building a business. Over to you, Maggie!
Tell us about the journey to building Feast & Fettle! What got you interested in food and nutrition in the first place?
I have always loved food, nutrition, and cooking. I was the only grandchild out of twelve who would regularly cook with my grandmother every chance I could get. I was also obsessed with watching cooking shows growing up, when most other kids my age were interested in cartoons and children’s shows! I really got into the nutrition aspect of cooking when I left my first college during my senior year because of a health crisis. I ended up enrolling in the Culinary Nutrition program at Johnson & Wales University and finished the program in two years. While in school, I worked as a nanny and personal chef for a local physician and ultimately ended up taking on more personal cheffing clients because of my boss’s physician network. I had about seven or eight personal cheffing clients before starting Feast & Fettle with a goal to provide meals for more families.
What makes Feast & Fettle different from other meal delivery options?
Feast & Fettle is different from most other meal delivery options for so many reasons. We offer so much flexibility within our plans, providing singles, couples, and family portions. We also allow members to customize menu items (within reason). Our biggest differentiator is our own in-house fleet of fourteen branded refrigerated brands. We hand-deliver all of our items, since we believe outsourcing delivery would hurt the quality of our meals.
Feast & Fettle has grown a lot over the course of the last year. How did you manage to keep going during this difficult time? What’s been the key to your growth?
We’ve always had to deal with hurdles and setbacks, so it’s sort of in our DNA to expect the unexpected. Whether it was being short-staffed when we had just a small team or ensuring that our team remained healthy during the pandemic, we tend to shine in those difficult moments. The pandemic was a unique time for us, as we were growing extremely fast before the peak of it, but we had already made the necessary investments in people and technology in order to excel. Sometimes, you put your head down and lift it back up to realize that you have a completely different company. The consistent key to our success is simply not accepting failure as an option.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to grow their dream or start a business in difficult circumstances?
It isn’t going to be easy. You will need to persevere despite the inevitable setbacks and failures. Focus on building a brand around your product. Lastly, listen to your customer feedback any change you get, since their opinion is the one that matters most.
What have you learned about balanced meals and nutrition — especially for families — since starting Feast & Fettle?
Since starting Feast & Fettle in 2016, I have become a mom myself and I understand how difficult it can be for working parents to put balanced nutritious meals on the table every night. We are pulled in so many directions during the day that sometimes, making dinner is the last thing on our minds. I think since I have become a parent myself, I really strive to put family-friendly, nutritious menu items on our weekly menus, items that are easy to reheat and create well-balanced, fulfilling meals for everyone in the family.
What is your favorite thing to cook?
My favorite thing to cook is Mussels with Portuguese Chourico. It’s something I will never be able to put on a Feast & Fettle menu – it’s much too hard to scale! — but I love making it for my friends and family.
What is your favorite thing about running Feast & Fettle?
I always get excited to create new products and write new menus every week!
What is your personal philosophy on food, nutrition, and clean eating? What would you like to share with people who are trying to use food to feel their best?
My philosophy is that there is not one diet or way of eating that is best for everyone. Each person is so different that it is best to listen to your body to find out what works best for you. With that said, I do believe everyone benefits from eating whole, unprocessed food. I like to think that Feast & Fettle is the next best thing to you cooking for yourself and your family.
Where do you see Feast & Fettle in five years? How will you keep growing without compromising quality, freshness, etc.?
In five years, I hope to see three or four commissary kitchens around New England. Our team is hyper-focused on delivering high-quality meals to our members, regardless of our scale. In order to deliver high-quality, local meals, we’ll launch several small kitchens around New England, instead of building one massive kitchen and shipping our meals.
Let’s turn to our Clean Living Conversations signature questions! You’ll find these questions in every installment of this Q+A series!
What is one thing that is guaranteed to make you laugh? My two-and-a-half-year-old son Quinn.
What do you eat for breakfast? I love to eat gluten-free pancakes with almond butter.
What’s one assumption about meal delivery services that you’re tired of hearing? That meal delivery services are the same as meal kits!
What is the best book you’ve read recently? The best podcast you’ve listened to? I am currently reading Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger by James Beard award winner Lisa Donovan. As far as podcasts, I am an avid listener of The Journal.
Learn more about what Feast & Fettle is doing here! You can also follow along on Instagram. New members can use code WELCOME25 for $25 off their first week of meals! Thanks so much to Maggie for having this Clean Living Conversation with us.
February 26, 2021
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