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Sweet Acorn

Sweet Acorn

Young Talent Takes Root in L.A. with Gourmet Food Delivery

Sweet AcornFounder and chef, Susan Oak, launched Sweet Acorn, an affordable gourmet food delivery line, in July 2012.  Susan truly wanted to make the personal chef experience available to as many people as possible and prides herself on keeping prices affordable so that clients can choose to feed themselves and their families’ wholesome foods.  Her sister, Jane, is an attorney and lacks the time or desire to cook and suggested that most people in Los Angeles only have the option of going out to eat.  Susan says, “I want to change that and bring home cooking into homes of busy people.”  Sweet Acorn is unique and different from other gourmet food delivery vendors because they do not offer “diet” food nor super “chef” food for the purpose of weight loss or caloric management.  “The idea is to make excellently and carefully prepared, “whole” foods available to anyone.  My goal is to provide home cooked meals for every family, no matter how busy or on a budget the members might be,” Susan explains.  In addition, the prices are extremely affordable and comparable to what one might spend on a quick take out meal – approximately $7-8 per meal.  Sweet Acorn is comprised of Susan, her partner and a cook.  Susan uses organic whenever possible and all items are personally prepared out of a commercial kitchen in Westwood, Los Angeles.

Sweet Acorn is gradually building up business as they have not fully marketed to the general public, but once they do, you can be certain it will be a hit!  Susan graduated from the French Culinary School in New York City and then worked for a start-up in Brooklyn.  She was inspired to start Sweet Acorn after culinary school when she moved to a small town in Pennsylvania and realized that most people in America do not have access to fresh, wholesome foods without chemicals or preservatives.  “Choices are canned food, fast food, or restaurants with mass-produced, chemically enhanced food. The fact of the matter is, most restaurants take shortcuts or add unnecessary fat, sugar or salt,” Susan shares.  In Los Angeles, everyone eats out and fresh food is unavailable unless you cook or have a personal chef.  In five years, Susan would love to have a storefront, ideally near offices so that busy, working people can have easy and addordable access to home cooked meals rather than fast food.  

Sweet AcornSusan named her business Sweet Acorn because she wanted to incorporate her surname, Oak.  Since the acorn is the fruit of the Oak free, the name “Sweet Acorn” was perfect for her business.  Sweet Acorn offers classic Italian favorites such as Homemade Bolognese, Shrimp a la Vodka, lasagna, and more.  The Homemade Bolognese with fresh pasta was robust with minced carrots and slow simmered beef, giving it hearty flavor and texture.  Shrimp a la Vodka featured shrimp in a tomato-cream sauce served over cooked pasta has a spicy kick to the Sweet Acorncreamy and robust tomato sauce that gives a good balance.  The shrimp is cooked just right so that it is perfectly “done” when reheating to eat.  But our favorite by far was the Turkey Lasagna, a traditional lasagna made with fresh ground turkey and homemade marinara.  Using the classic thick noodle lasagna sheets with the curly edges rather than the thin flat sheets, each bite is fluffy with a balanced amount of pasta, ground turkey, ricotta, mozzarella and homemade marinara.  The flavors are there without being too salty or overdone while leaving you satisfied but not heavy. 

Sweet AcornSweet Acorn is delivered weekly, generally Sunday evening or Monday morning as people typically dine out on the weekends.  By delivering the menu at the start of the week, people can take food to work for the week or keep it at home for a quick meal after a long day.  The food stays fresh for about a week refrigerated and is appropriately labeled so seafood is best consumed within the first 3-4 days and other items 5-6 days.  Current pricing is 54 credits for $220/month ($55/week per person) offering about 5-7 weekly meals for one person.  If you want more credits for larger orders for families or multiple people, Sweet Acorn also offers 98 credits for $390/month ($48.75/week per person).  This higher credit option provides about 5-7 weekly meals for two people.  Sweet Acorn sells to individuals and families and Susan truly takes care of her own as there is no extra charge for customers with allergies (gluten free, lactose intolerant, nuts, etc).  She tries to denote dishes that are already gluten free and vegetarian but since a number of her clients have children with nut allergies, she simply has their restrictions and preferences on file and provides everything with nuts on the side.  Sweet Acorn offers plant and grain based dishes that are easily modified to fit anyone’s dietary restrictions. 

Sweet AcornThe menu changes weekly and you find yourself eagerly awaiting Wednesday to select the new dishes and items for the following week.  Personalized ordering has never been easier as the online menu with a drop down box allows you to decide on the number of orders you want.  Each item tells you how many servings are in each order and how many credits it requires. 
We highly recommend any of the meat dishes that Sweet Acorn offers as they will undoubtedly taste better and healthier than any take-out restaurant.  The Cajun Salmon is seasoned liberally with cayenne, black pepper and seasonings while seared to a nice crust.  Great flavor and most importantly, not over-cooked as it is seared for those who prefer it slightly undercooked and easily adaptable for those who like it fully cooked by heating it up.  We were impressed with the Beef Bourguignon, a classic French beef braise with carrots and celery, which packed immense flavor and complexity while being robust and filling.  The braised beef cubes were still tender while the rich sauce made an ideal glaze over rice or mashed potatoes.  One of the Sweet Acornbest beef dishes from Sweet Acorn is the Shaking Beef, made with seared Vietnamese-style cubes of New York strip and sautéed onions served atop delicate watercress.  The well-seasoned cubes of strip steak are a generous size and seared to perfection to ensure a medium rare red interior when sliced.  Upon reheating, the beef is not overcooked and tastes fabulous with the onion and watercress.  Sweet Acorn offers a variety of meat dishes such as Twice Cooked Szechwan pork, BBQ Chicken, Spicy Orange-Glazed Pork Chops, and Thai Panang Chicken Curry.  Authentic and savory Pulled Pork Tacos were a favorite as the tender, shredded Carnitas atop corn tortillas with salsa and cilantro lime crema tasted fresh and flavorful.    

When it comes to Susan’s personal favorites, she loves all of the menu items..or else she would not include them.  But she really loves salads made with whole grains and vegetables with interesting dressings and anything with soba in it.  “I think it’s easy to be nut/gluten/dairy free or vegan and still eat really flavorful, interesting foods,” Susan says.  Since Susan enjoys using soba noodles, the Chinese Chicken Soba Salad combined the classic ingredients of a Chinese chicken salad with tender soba buckwheat noodles.  The soy ginger vinaigrette dressing on the side allows you to drizzle as little or much as you wanted on the salad with sliced crisp carrots and cucumbers, shredded chicken breast, napa cabbage, and soba noodles.  Refreshing, light and satisfying.  Customer feedback has shown that favorites include marinated ribeye, seared salmon, broccoli slaw, quinoa salads, vegetable pesto salads, chana masala and dessert items.  Sweet Acorn also has some sweet treats for dessert and pastry lovers, with delectable options like Pumpkin Bread Pudding, Honey Roasted Peaches, Fudgy Pudgy Crunch Brownies, Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, and more.  The menu at Sweet Acorn revolves around what is in season.  Spoken like a true chef, Susan says, “If it’s not in season, it’s not being served. Why bother eating produce that isn’t at their best when there are so many dishes that can be made with fruits and vegetables from each season?”  She also says that the menu changes as the California weather gets (ever so slightly) colder, thereby offering more stews and comfort foods in the winter, as opposed to the variety of salads available in the summer. 

Sweet AcornSusan gets extremely creative with her vegetable side dishes, which are versatile enough to munch and snack on throughout the day or accompany a heartier entrée.  We loved the healthy and light Marinated Kale and White Bean Salad, a garlic-red onion dressing that delivered a flavorful vinaigrette burst with the firm beans and crispy kale.  The colors of dark green with red onions is also especially breathtaking.  Marinated Mushrooms in red wine vinaigrette delivers a satisfying tartness around the plump mushrooms.  The Crunchy Creamy Cucumber Salad tossed with Greek yogurt, lemon, and red onions was a refreshing and healthy side that made for a great in-between meal snack.  Other delicious accompaniments featured in the past include Indonesian Fried Rice, Roasted Cauliflower with Raisins, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Spicy Peanut Noodle Salad, and Quinoa with Feta, Chickpeas and Broccoli tossed in a Tahini vinaigrette.  Her comfort food classics, like the Bacon Mac and Cheese, is a mouthwatering bowl of goodness as the creamy melted cheddar blend over mini ziti noodles with bits of bacon brings everything together, without being overly greasy or overpowered by bacon.  Each weekly menu generally offers a homemade soup that is creative and complex.  The Carrot Ginger soup is smooth and creamy with a flavorful carrot base and hint of ginger.  Healthy with all the beta-carotene, this soup tasted delicious.  Past favorites have been Sweet Potato and Andouille Soup and Chicken Posole Spicy Mexican soup with chicken, onions, and hominy.

Sweet AcornGetting deep down and personal with Susan, we asked her which celebrity chef she would like to meet.  She responded, “Jamie Oliver! His work may be getting some criticism, but I love what he’s doing to try and teach people to eat better. Beautiful food is fantastic, but accessibility to unprocessed, clean food is more important.”  Susan believes that food should first and foremost nourish the body, and only then does flair and fanfare have a place.  When it comes to hobbies and free time, Susan is completely obsessive about food. She will read cookbooks and recipes and try out new things.  She also enjoys playing host because she loves how food can always bring people together.  For December, gift cards will be available at a promotional rate.  Sweet Acorn also caters for home and office parties with a wide range of hors d'oeuvres, pastries and desserts.  So aside from full meals, Sweet Acorn is an excellent and affordable choice for catering or special events.  In parting, Susan shares that after hundreds of fad diets with special “eating lists,” she loves what Michael Pollan has to say on eating and staying healthy; “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Visit them at sweetacorn.com and sweetacorn.com/blog.

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