Savannah’s Food Company brings local, farm-fresh meals to your doorstep
Photographs by Chip Chockley
Savannah’s Food Company is a next-generation, farm-to-doorstep meal delivery service started by Chef Zach Thomason in February.
“We bring farm-fresh meals to your house so you don’t have to worry,” he says.
Meal delivery is just the beginning of what this new Memphis business does. Zach is also working to help develop the local food system; to offer healthy, tasty food to those who otherwise might not have it; and, ultimately, to share the happiness, goodness, and hope he’s found.
Mumbai Beans & Rice (Photo courtesy of Gillian Lepisto)
Moroccan Tagine Style Chicken (Photo courtesy of Gillian Lepisto)
When the pandemic started, Zach thought about what he wanted to see in Memphis—about what he thought was missing.
“I live in North Memphis where there are limited options for quality, local produce. My family and I talked about the idea of opening a locally sourced grocery store that offered a chef-curated deli and take-and-bake counter—a place where everyone would be welcome to come in and get some good local produce,” Zach says.
But with no money and zero brand-recognition, Zach didn’t know how to do that. So he focused on the one thing he could immediately offer—his ability to cook. “Seeing that a lot of people were staying close to home, I thought,
‘Why not cook some good, local food, deliver it to them, and try to develop the brand through meal delivery?’”
Meal delivery was a thing pre-pandemic, and Zach’s banking on it being here to stay post-pandemic.
Zach grew up in Memphis and was interested in cooking from a very young age, thanks to his dad. “He taught me how to do basic things to take care of myself, like frying bacon, scrambling eggs, and making mac-n-cheese. Then he taught me some basic recipes like Caesar salad dressing and pasta sauces. I was always drawn to the kitchen and things regarding food,” explains Zach.
He was not a very good student in either high school or college unless he had genuine interest in the subjects. “Cooks and kitchen people seemed to make sense to me, and I looked up to their grit,” he says.
I’ve always really liked writing, art, and music, and there was a connection between all of these things and the ability to make good food.”
As he traveled around the country, he consistently worked kitchen jobs. When he finally landed back in Memphis, Dave Krog gave him a job at Interim. “I have been incredibly fortunate to get the opportunity to learn from him over the past few years,” Zach says
Zach knows the power of a good meal because there were times when he couldn’t find one. “I was homeless off and on for a few years. I was a heroin addict. My now-fiancée and I lived in a tent together. To eat, sometimes we would wait until Little Caesars threw away their leftover Hot-N-Ready pizzas so we could take a few and eat them throughout the day,” he explains.
“We survived on gas station food and junk like that for a long time, and the few times that I got a good meal, it was really meaningful. It gave me a sense of hope, even if just briefly.
And when you subsist at that level, the only thing really keeping you going is hope.”
Now that Zach has found a persistent sense of hope, he wants to foster that feeling in others.
“I believe in eating as fresh and as local as possible because, as a chef, it tastes better. And, as someone who has been trying to take better care of himself, when I eat fresh food, I feel better,” he says.
Typically, he starts his day with a 90-minute Bikram yoga class.
“I give a lot of credit to yoga for helping me find balance in my day and reconnecting me to me,” he says.
“Then I go home to say goodbye to my fiancée’s daughter [and business namesake], Savannah, before she leaves for school. Then I do whatever various shopping needs to be done for the day, take the groceries to Paradox Kitchen, cook, package, and finally deliver meals.”
If there are any leftovers from his meal prep, Zach takes the extra food to friends in the recovery community and others involved with homeless outreach to make sure nothing goes to waste.
Zach’s fiancée, Gillian Lepisto, takes care of many behind-the-scenes details. She works as the business’s graphic and website designer, farmers market assistant, label maker, and baker. “Zach and I have been together since Savannah was four. We had a hard road, but she brought unity to our hearts,” Gillian says. “The Flower of Life logo we designed [for Savannah’s Food Company] shows the unifying pattern of life that we all share—you, me, animals, vegetables, everything.
We are all just always striving to be healthy and well—every family in Memphis. This is our small part.”
Zach is cooking and delivering meals on Tuesdays (order by Sunday) and Fridays (order by Wednesday) for now and hopes to add more days as demand increases.
The meals he makes are fully cooked and can be refrigerated for several days or frozen for up to two months.
Individually and family-sized portions are available.
Dishes span the continents and taste buds. Zach’s vegan Mumbai Beans & Rice features a savory Indian coconut chickpea stew and crispy flatbread. His gluten-free Chicken & Gravy is braised, locally sourced chicken, served with gravy, local sweet potato gratin, and sautéed local green beans. The Moroccan Tagine Style Chicken features a whole, roasted, locally sourced chicken, Delta Grind rice grits, house-preserved lemons and seasonal vegetables. Saffron & Citrus Salmon and his Pork Tenderloin round out the entrées.
He also offers more casual fare to ensure people working (and learning) from home get a good meal. Sandwiches include The North Memphis Banh Mi (lemongrass tofu replaces the standard pork), The Beverly Hills (a turkey club featuring green apple and a red pepper goat cheese), and the Miami Pressed Cuban (featuring house bread-and-butter pickles).
There are also fresh salads, soups, kids meals, sides, mocktails and other drinks, and desserts.
His Chocolate Truffle Brownies could be an entire business on their own.
Zach is trying to do for others what helps him feel happier and focused.
“I cater the menu around what the farmers bring to the market. I see what they have, make lists, and develop menu items based on what they have coming out of the fields,” he says.
“I like all of the farmers I deal with, but I really enjoy seeing what Richard [Simmons] from Old World Farms brings to the market. He grows some really great stuff, and he typically has a recipe or two to share as well.”
At home, Zach has a small herb garden with mint, cilantro, parsley, basil, rosemary, and tomatoes.
“I want to be a part of developing our local food economy.