CASA GRANDE

From the raspberry chipotle meatloaf to the steaks, salmon and sides, Darin Davis and Michelle Romero aim to make sure that everything that comes out of The 5th Taste kitchen not only looks and tastes good but is also healthy and nutritious.

“It’s all about being good to your body and knowing what’s in everything you eat,” Romero said.

The 5th Taste is a meal delivery service based in Casa Grande. Davis, a chef trained at the Cordon Bleu, and Romero, a baker, do all the cooking, packaging, delivery and marketing. Meals are delivered ready-to-eat in eco-friendly containers and can be refrigerated or frozen and later microwaved.

The two started the service as a way of helping Davis’ father soon after he was diagnosed with diabetes.

“His dad had to change his eating habits and Darin wanted to help,” Romero said. “At the same time, his sister was starting with a no gluten, no dairy diet.”

Davis and Romero began preparing healthy, ready-to-eat meals for family and friends.

“It grew from there,” Romero said. “As word spread, people started requesting meals.”

The couple formed a business, The 5th Taste, which now delivers about 40 meals or more each week.

“A lot of our clients are winter visitors,” Romero said. “But we have clients who are busy families, retirees, people who live alone or people who just want to have dinner already prepared for them a few nights a week.”

Orders are placed and paid for through The 5th Taste website. The couple cooks and packages orders on Sundays, using a rented commercial kitchen in Casa Grande. Deliveries are made Monday morning throughout the area.

Everything is made from scratch using fresh, as-local-as-possible ingredients and no preservatives or artificial coloring.

“We even make our own bone broth,” Romero said.

Focusing on wholesome ingredients helps the couple with its “food is medicine” approach, Davis said.

“We believe this makes the food more vibrant and nutritious, and taste better too. Not only are you what you eat, but you also are what you eat eats,” Davis said.

Menus rotate weekly and new items are often added. Each meal, which consists of a protein item and two sides, may be customized according to dietary needs or restrictions or adjusted to various diets such as vegan, vegetarian, keto, Paleo and others.

The couple strives to create foods that aren’t available in local restaurants such as chili lime glazed salmon with Sichuan dragon green beans, Greek chicken and garlic-spinach mashed potatoes or stir-fried eggplant with ginger and other choices.

“Last week we tried a chicken pot pie egg roll with meat and sauce in a lightly fried tortilla,” Romero said. “People loved it. We’re trying new things all the time. The raspberry chipotle meatloaf is also popular.”

For every meal, Romero said there is a community and story.

“We believe in the value of knowing where your food comes from. Know your farmer, know your chef, know your food. We are telling the story of the meals, following the ingredients from farm to table,” she said. “We’re continuously seeking out new relationships with local farmers and ranchers and building a community of liked-minded people surrounding The 5th Taste.”

As the business grows, Romero and Davis have begun gardening to grow some of their own ingredients.

“We’re in the process of clearing land to turn our little one-acre plot into a desert oasis providing beyond organic fruits, vegetables and pasture-raised eggs for our kitchen,” Romero said. “A chef’s mind is inspired by anything and everything. Combining ingredients in surprising ways creating provocative new flavors. Some even make it to the online store before we have pictures of the new dishes.”

Developing The 5th Taste has strengthened the relationship between Davis and Romero, Davis said.

“We love taking a homesteader’s approach to meal prep and being in business for ourselves. I thoroughly enjoy cooking. Its part art, part craft, part providing a service for others. This little meal prep business of ours fulfills our sense of purpose, connecting us with like minded people. But, my real passion is Michelle. Nothing makes me happier than when she’s smiling and laughing,” he said.

In the coming months, The 5th Taste plans to add more vegan and vegetarian choices and roll-out breakfast options.

There is no extra fee for meal delivery. For service, The 5th Taste does not require contracts, membership fees or long-term commitments. Customers may order as many or as few meals as needed.

“We have families that ordered several of the same meal for the whole family because it really is cheaper than going out to eat,” Romero said.

For more information, visit The 5th Taste website, www.the5thtaste.org.

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