In his 20 years as a professional chef, Jim Hamilton has cooked for some big names.
He’s prepared meals on tour for rock and pop stars such as Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Phish and Jon Bon Jovi. Last year, he spent much of his time on the road with actor and singer Hugh Jackman.
On tour, Hamilton honed his skills at cooking meals for large groups. “You have to make everyone happy from the artists to the truck drivers,” he said. “As a chef, I am a fan of spicy foods, but you definitely learn to broaden your flavors.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic brought concert touring to a screeching halt earlier this year, Hamilton decided to put his skills into a new venture in Richmond, making burritos for local residents.
“My last gig was in February,” Hamilton said. “My work kind of disappeared overnight when the pandemic started, but it gave us the time to go for this.”
The new gig is a food delivery service called Sous Casa, which sells burritos, enchiladas and jerk chicken bowls through its website.
Hamilton and a couple of friends have set up operation at Hatch Kitchen RVA, a commercial kitchen in South Richmond with a focus on startup food businesses.
At Hatch, Hamilton and friends make anywhere from a couple hundred to a thousand burritos a week, depending on their order volumes. The startup also has outfitted a truck with freezers for deliveries to local customers.
“It is delivered cooked and frozen,” Hamilton said. “All you need to do is put it in the microwave for about three minutes.”
Hamilton chose burritos because they are convenient to freeze and re-heat and provide a “good vessel” for a variety of flavor and ingredient options.
“You can do so many different flavors with it,” said Hamilton, who started his cooking career working at several Richmond-area restaurants including Millie’s, Kuba Kuba and Proper Pie Company.
“You can do Indian and Tex-Mex,” he said. “You can do Asian.”
The startup also sells breakfast burritos. Each burrito or bowl sells for $3.50 to $4.00. Customers can order online at eatsouscasa.com. The company delivers the frozen food to customers two days a week.
The startup’s regular delivery parameters are within state Route 288 to the west and Interstate 295 to on the east side of the Richmond region.
Hamilton said burritos are also a good food to donate to hunger relief organizations, and that’s what Sous Casa has been doing.
Sous Casa has donated more than 4,400 burritos to local nonprofits and churches, such as The Boys and Girls Club of Metro Richmond, the YWCA and the St. Thomas and Sherbourne food pantries.
Hamilton said he hopes to be able to donate one burrito for every couple of burritos the startups sells. It depends on how well business goes.
“We’re not making money yet,” he said. “We’ve just been getting started and doing market research and things like that.”