Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Spotlight: Ryan Hansan

Meet Ryan Hansan, founder of Scratch DCScratch DC is a cool meal service that delivers the uncooked ingredients to your door.  Everything is measured, chopped and ready to go.  All you have to do is follow Ryan's simple instructions and you'll have a master meal in a matter of minutes (25-30).

As a foodie and cook, I was a bit skeptical of the service, but after I tested it out, I'm sold.  It is especially nice for those evenings where you stayed at work a bit too long and don't want to do all of the meal preparation, but still want to eat something healthy.  
I tried the Cider Brined Pork Loin with Chipotle Sweet Potatoes.  It wasn't just good, it was delicious!  The flavors popped.  We ate every last bite, including the freshly baked cookies from the balls of cookie dough included in the box.  

Friends, I urge you to give it a try.  If your meal is anything like mine, you're sure to be a Scratch DC regular. 
I asked Ryan a few questions to get to know him and his company a little better.  He was born and raised around here and basically grew up in the kitchen with is mom and grandma.  He moved to DC for college and started a printing company while in school and ran it for about a year.  Then he took off on a trip around the world and fell in love with traveling.  When he returned back to DC, he set out to solve a problem. 

How did you decide to start Scratch DC?

It was a classic (or cliche) example of setting out to fix a problem.  As a young kid just out of college with a rather unpredictable schedule, it was pretty hard to cook a good meal.  Whenever I wanted to cook I had to take the time to find a decent sounding recipe then schlep to the store. Once there, I ultimately ended up buying way more of the ingredients than I needed and all that extra food (and money) just went to waste in the fridge or was banished to the spice cabinet, never to be used again.  I thought there had to be a smarter way for people to cook good food so I set out to make making amazing meals easy.  
Favorite ingredient?

Favorite ingredient, eh?  Such a tough one.  Salt is probably my favorite ingredient but that would be a cop-out answer, so lets say.... Beef Flank Steak.  Its delicious, always tender, cooks in seconds and is extremely versatile... a perfect scratchDC meat!
How many meals do you average per day?  
This is kind of a secret, but lets just say we're feeding hundreds and hundreds of hungry Washingtonians each week!

What is the max you can sell right now?  
We've recently hired our third full time employee so our production capacity got a nice little bump.

What are your future goals for Scratch DC?

We're still very much in our infancy and have got a lot of growing to do but in the short term I want to continue to improve our overall customer experience.  People truly love what we're doing now, but we're always looking for ways to get better.  

We also hope to expand our product line, eventually offering multiple meals each night with a  healthier and a more indulgent option.  Weekend brunches are in the works as well.

From there we'd love to continue to expand our delivery area, eventually bring scratch to other cities and maybe even open a restaurant one day.
How would you describe DC Cuisine?

I don't know if its just that I've become more food focused over the past few years, but I just feel like the DC food scene is exploding.  DC really is such a melting pot of people and cultures and culinary styles and I think that's reflected by some of the new spots and trucks that are opening up.  There's really something for everyone and I'm excited to bring the best of whats out there into people kitchens and help them realize that they can create some of the greatest meals of their lives with just a tiny bit of help from scratchDC.
How long have you lived in the DC area and how did you end up here?

I was born and raised in Northern VA and grew up a DC sports fan so I've always considered myself  a "Washingtonian".  I moved to the city for college (American University represent!) and have been here ever since.

What is your favorite local restaurant and why?

Though I truly love all the varieties and flavors that DC has to offer, I've got to say my favorite restaurant, without a doubt, is Komi.  It's not only some of the most mind-blowingly fantastic tastes I've ever experienced, but the service is impeccable.  

Do you have a favorite cookbook?  Number of cookbooks in your collection?

I've got quite a few but have never actually counted - I'd say 15-20?  We get our recipes from cookbooks, the Internet, friends, family, etc (a lot of our best stuff comes straight from my momma's kitchen!) We've even created a few recipes ourselves!  

My favorite cookbook though is probably The Flavor Bible...  It's a little more of an encyclopedia of tastes rather than a cookbook, and it really helps when we want to get a bit more creative.
What are your most exciting challenges right now?

Needless to say there are a lot of challenges when starting a business.  Just keeping up with the day to day is a good one, but the most exciting challenge has got to be discovering and testing new recipes.  We usually test 3-4 meals a week and only the very best make the cut.  It's a lot of cooking and a lot of good food!
Kitchen appliance you can’t live without?

We're a pretty simple operation and do almost everything by hand, but sometimes, a food processor is a life saver.  You have no idea how much time we used to spend just grating fresh ginger or chopping garlic... But we wised up, got a processor and now we just peel and throw it in there... magic!
Where's the best place you've traveled to and why?

I've had the very good fortune to do quite a bit of traveling and while I lived in and love East Africa, my favorite spot I'm dying to go back to is India.  I spent a couple of weeks in India and Nepal and its just... magnificent.  The people, the culture, the colors, the food... all just so delightfully different than any other place on earth. 
Any upcoming trips?

ScratchDC has got me pretty well grounded... but Christmas and New Years both fall on Wednesdays this year so it might be a good time to shut down the old scratchDC machine and grab my passport!
Do you have a simple Scratch DC recipe to share?

How bout some of Momma's Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes?  -  Delicious, simple and featured in a couple of bundles!

Fill a medium pot half way w/ water and bring to a boil over high heat.
Peel and dice a big ole sweet potato then add it to the boiling water with 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1 T salt.
Cook until fork tender then drain and return to same pot, now over lowest heat.
Add 2 T butter and 1/4-1/2 cup heavy cream and mash everything up with the mashing implement of your choice. Chop up some chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and add them a t at a time until its as spicy as you want it. Add a squeeze of lime juice, salt and pepper to taste and dig in!

Anything else you’d like to share?

Just want to thank our customers for all their support!  We've pretty much relied on word of mouth thus far and its been just awesome to see how much people love what we're doing and how excited they are to tell their friends and family about us.  So to all of you who keep coming back and have helped to spread the word, thank you!

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