(Dec. 19) Schnuck Markets Inc. recently introduced two concepts that will help transform select stores into more than just a food purchasing destination.

In November, the St. Louis-based retailer launched its Schnucks Cooks program, in which chefs prepare meals and offer cooking advice in grocery stores, and its Meal Creations course, an in-house cooking class, said Lori Willis, Schnucks’ director of communications.

“We must be more than a purveyor of goods,” Willis said. “We must be a cook’s helper, meeting the needs of all families, like those who enjoy cooking and don’t have time to do it. It’s part of our thrust to be more of a food resource to customers.”

MEAL CREATIONS

The daily Meal Creations classes are available only at the Dardenne, Mo., location, in an adjacent building with a wall-length window, inviting customers to come in and take a peek, Willis said.

The classes consist of 15 stations, and participants are provided with all the materials required to prepare the meal. Participants can make 12 family-sized entrees of their choice, and fresh produce is a component of several, such as the tortellini minestrone, which features tomatoes, corn and peas, Willis said.

The meals, which rotate on a monthly basis, are concocted by chefs, and food experts provide the recipes, she said. Meals rotate on a monthly basis.

“We believe it’s a natural extension of the food business,” Willis said of Meal Creations. “Families are finding themselves more time challenged, and the time available to cook meals from scratch has been significantly cut from what it was 10 to 12 years ago. Yet, many people still like the idea of serving their families home-cooked meals.”

SCHNUCKS COOKS

For those who simply want a little direction when cooking, the Schnucks Cooks concept features chefs cooking up dishes from start to finish at kiosks in Twin Oaks, Mo.; Woods Mill. Town and Country, Mo.,; and Kirkwood, Mo., grocery stores, Willis said.

The chefs prepare a wide variety of meals, ranging from apple and sage pork tenderloin to pumpkin soup, and they offer samples and recipe cards — which also suggest a wine and beer pairing — advice, and all the utensils needed at the kiosks, she said.

The Schnucks Cooks program focuses on one or two recipes a day, Willis said.

“The intent is to provide healthy, nutritious, well-balanced meals that can be prepared fairly quickly,” she said. “And customers develop a relationship when it comes to Schnucks Cooks — they become a friend and teacher.”

Schnucks, which has 102 stores in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa and Tennessee, plans to incorporate Schnucks Cooks at more locations in 2008, Willis said.

Schnucks: Cooking programs are ‘natural extension’
Schnuck Markets Inc. offers daily Meal Creations classes at a store on the outskirts of the St. Louis area.