Jess Daniell is a self-confessed foodie. Growing up on a sheep and beef farm in the Wairarapa hill-country, she gained an appreciation for real food and fresh, seasonal ingredients from an early age. Constantly devouring all the cookbooks she could get her hands on as a child, and still today, you’ll find an ever changing stack on her bedside table ready for late-night inspiration.
Jess’ Underground Kitchen is a ready-made meal and catering business with four buzzing cafes and it all started at her kitchen table. She’s always loved entertaining but hadn't ever thought about starting a food business until a friend, who'd come over for dinner, suggested Jess started cooking healthy meals for friends during the week. It all grew very organically, by word of mouth. After three years of popping up at different locations to feed hungry Aucklanders, she found the perfect spot, in the heart of Herne Bay, to open her very own bricks-and-mortar deli, and due to popular demand, she opened delis in Remuera, Parnell and Devonport. From day dot, the local communities were lining up at the door with big smiles on their faces — these are the same customers she continues to see every day, at all of our stores.
Her food is healthy, but not saintly; it pushes boundaries without being inaccessible; it captures flavour without pigeonholing any one cuisine. In other words, she keeps food fun! It's always been important to her that JUK continues to build on its trusted reputation, that their food is always seasonal and fresh, and she will never scrimp on flavour simply to keep the accountant happy. Along with their daily meal options, which change every week, they also offer an abundance of cabinet food. Everything is prepared in-house daily, using interesting produce and specialty ingredients to keep our patrons coming back for more.
In 2020, Jess and her team launched a new range of supermarket-ready meals, JUK Gourmet Everyday. With an understanding of the busy lives everyone leads, they wanted to make a healthy, home-cooked meal as accessible as possible. These frozen single-serve meals are handmade in small batches with real ingredients, just like you would make at home. They're perfect for having on hand to heat from frozen, when you need something more nutritious and delicious than takeaways. With a range of traditional and contemporary flavours, including five vegan meals, there is something for everyone. Find JUK Gourmet Everyday in a supermarket freezer near you!