Over the years, there have been numerous dietary fads that promote weight loss or muscle gain, each more bizarre than the other. Recently, however, there have been more concise diets that focus on holistic and healthy approaches. The ketogenic, or keto diet, for instance, which involves high-fat and low-carb meals, is what many consider a way of life. This is especially the case for Fatin Rasyiqah Mustaza and Saiful Adzli Ghazali, the partners behind Chunky Monkeys — a service that delivers frozen keto meals to your doorstep.
“[Keto meal prep] is fun to plan. There are so many things you can explore, actually, and you can get creative with it. For example, the base of our pizza is made with cheese. And we make taco shells with cheese too,” says Fatin. She was introduced to this diet through a friend, and they began exploring more recipes. “We sort of loved the idea of meal prepping because we lead a hectic lifestyle. So, from then on, we opened it up to other people and made it into a business. We took orders only through Instagram at the time, and the orders got quite overwhelming for just the two of us with a small kitchen, and it was hard to cope,” she adds. And so Chunky Monkeys was born in January last year.
While Fatin currently works as a communications senior manager for a listed company (Chunky Monkeys is her side venture), Saiful was a contact made while she was a journalist. At the time, he was working at Maybank Investment Bank, but is now full-time with Chunky Monkeys. He says, “I was doing my own baking and cooking at home. When [Fatin] told me about this keto thing, I was interested. She was looking for a new partner, so I thought this was probably a good idea for me to venture into.”
While Chunky Monkeys was working out of a home kitchen, it was difficult to keep up with the volume of orders. Keeping track of orders through Instagram also proved to be challenging. Last April, it was decided that the business would take a break to rejig operations. “We couldn’t cope with orders, and we needed to find a new base and strengthen our own team. We also wanted a new platform, for orders, instead of Instagram,” explains Fatin. Now, their website is powered by Oddle, which is partnered with Lalamove delivery service, ensuring a more efficient ordering and delivery process.
The relaunch of Chunky Monkeys in July was possible because it set up a kitchen in Wangsa Melawati. The new place meant ample freezers for storing meals. While previously it could cope with only 100 meals a week, Chunky Monkeys is now churning out 250 to 300 meals a week. It offers two main menus: Back to Basics, which includes five dishes that change every three months; and Something Special, which also has five options that change every week. “So, that’s one of our unique selling points; because it changes, you won’t get bored of it,” says Fatin. Delicious dishes include Cauli Mac ’n’ Cheese, Cauli Rice Nasi Lemak and Turmeric Chicken with Fried Cauli Rice.
While Fatin handles the recipes and marketing, Saiful manages operations, which has been challenging since the implementation of the Movement Control Order. “Getting the ingredients, the raw materials, is my main challenge right now. Previously, I was doing the shopping, but now because of the MCO, I’m trying to stay away from people and getting someone to buy for us or just ordering online. Not everything is available right now. It’s so hard to get certain keto-specific ingredients because of the shortage,” explains Saiful.
Keto recipes tend to be more tedious to create, so getting their orders completed during the curfew times is difficult. Saiful adds that even making cauli rice can take half a day. Still, their method of freezing dishes before delivery helps maintain the meals’ freshness.
More recently, customers have requested for non-keto meals or cheat meals. “You see, there’s a demand for normal food and not everybody in the house wants a keto diet. While parents want a keto meal, their kids don’t. Especially now, it’s hard to go and get even normal food,” says Saiful.
Chunky Monkeys is now testing a sister brand, Nom Nom, which will provide nutritious cheat meals, including pasta dishes such as bolognese and carbonara. This makes it easier to order meals for the entire family.
“Later on, we’re going to create it as a brand of its own, and give it its own platform,” says Fatin.
Chunky Monkeys intends to extend its delivery service from weekly to daily. Initial plans were to have this service start in April but it has been postponed because of the MCO.
Fatin and Saiful also hope to get a few investors on board to help grow their business. They want to expand their kitchens and work with Ketomall Asia, an online platform that sells keto ingredients and promotes a keto lifestyle. One of their long-term plans includes retailing their frozen meals in supermarkets.
This article first appeared on April 6, 2020 in The Edge Malaysia.
[Updated Apr 20,2020] : Check Chunky Monkey's Facebook for their delivery schedule during MCO.