This is part of a weekly series introducing readers to individuals who are passionate about our Mid-Valley community.
For some, cooking is an inconvenience. Fortunately for Salem, there is a cook in town who would happily make meals for you.
No, it’s not a meal prep subscription program or takeout.
Soup ‘R Meals, run by chef Todd Wieweck, is a weekly meal delivery and pick-up service offering healthy, personally made meals.
Inspired by family who had disappointing experiences with meal subscription plans, Wieweck’s wife, Lianne, suggested he make the ready-to-eat equivalent to the subscription programs. Considering all the people who had asked him over the years if he could cook for them, Wieweck sent some emails out and soon Soup ‘R Meals was born.
Wieweck has been in the Salem area for more than two decades. Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, he came here to be the sous chef at fellow chef Jeff James’ restaurant in Salem. The two had met while working and became friends.
After working for five years, Wieweck picked up mentoring culinary classes at South Salem High School in 2002. He took the job as instructor in 2008.
“It was great to see kids who had never experienced success in the classroom see they had achievements in mine,” Wieweck said. “Then being able to inspire them from there, and watching them gradually grow themselves in other places.”
Leaving teaching was partially inspired by a meal he had on a school trip. He and another teacher had a meal at a restaurant in California and the execution of the meal blew his mind. Reinspired to do more cooking, he returned to the industry, working in Newberg for a few years before starting Soup ‘R Meals.
His passion for cooking, and feeding folks who look forward to good food, is what makes the operation so close to his heart.
How it works
For the last five years, Soup ‘R Meals has consistently offered meals every week to be ordered and picked up or delivered the following week. Whether you order a few dishes or just one, each are packed in single portions with reheating instructions.
Between noon on Mondays and Thursday evening, Soup ‘R Meals patrons can see the menu for the following week and order accordingly. This allows customers to not deal with the hassle of canceling or modifying orders.
“We have heard many times how grateful people are to find something they can order for their parents, or folks recovering from an injury, and this fits,” Wieweck said.
Each week is a new menu because Wieweck personally “hates” making the same stuff all the time. He’s made it a mission to encourage people to try more cuisines by offering a rotating selection. Even for the picky eaters, Wieweck makes sure there is a wide enough selection so folks can order the same things or try new ones. Dishes previously offered include pho and Ethiopian doro wot.
Besides ready to eat-meals, Soup ‘R Meals also offers spice mixes, sauces and dessert, including ice cream. Wieweck especially likes offering spices, because he picks the different dried ingredients and grinds them up. He has a special “Bazooka Powder,” which is a blend of more than 10 chilies, making for a spicy mix.
“We hear from people that we’ve expanded their (culinary) horizons and have never tried the stuff they’re ordering before,” Wieweck said. “I like being able to make all sorts of things, exploring cuisines from all over the place.”
For folks with specific allergies or dietary restrictions, Soup ‘R Meals is able to accommodate them. With a number of older patrons, Wieweck is accustomed to making meals under specific parameters.
“We found out quickly that there is a whole segment of Salem that is basically ignored – and that’s our retired folks,” Wieweck said. “I had no idea at the time, but there’s a lot of people who enjoy good food and if you’ve lost a spouse, do you want to go to a restaurant by yourself?”
To check out what Soup ‘R Meals is offering, go to souprmeals.com.
If you have an idea for someone we should profile for this series, email Statesman Journal senior news editor Alia Beard Rau at firstname.lastname@example.org.