Print

From Summer’s Table to yours

Story by DIANNE RUSSELL

Photos by Scott Brashier

There’s no denying everyone spends a lot more time in the kitchen now, and at this point, anytime a scrumptious and healthy meal arrives on your doorstep, it seems like magic. 

Well, it is a special kind of wizardry, and the conjurer is Summer Tarango, owner of Summer’s Table. Her particular form of alchemy involves combining the freshest possible ingredients into meal kits for two or four that transform – with a little preparation – into delectable dining experiences. There is just enough prep (as simple as combining homemade sauces and fixings) to make you feel as if you’ve contributed to the meal.

Summer’s Table also offers meal kits to gift to others, pantry and fresh items, drop-off catering, do-it-yourself charcuterie boards, and full-service events.

Summer launched Summer’s Table in January of 2019. “While I was walking through breast cancer in 2018, meal kits were a life saver,” she says. 

She partnered with Laguna Beach Parents’ Club to give gift certificates to new moms and anyone diagnosed with breast cancer.

For the 14 years prior to starting Summer’s Table, Summer was the operations manager at zpizza and owned her own catering company.

From Summer's bag

Click on photo for a larger image

Like opening a present with a bonus “welcome” bouquet 

Once the pandemic hit, Summer’s business doubled. At that time, she partnered with several businesses in town to support them: French Buckets (bouquets), Artisan Bread Bakery, Jedidiah Coffee, Honey Girl Grows, and Pretty n Vintage, who makes upcycled masks from vintage fabrics. These products can be found on her website, and some of the businesses are at the Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. 

 “It was really cool to get to partner with other people when their businesses slowed down,” Summer says.

Her organic produce comes from JR Organics – they are at the Farmers’ Market. “We use organic whenever we can.” 

The fish she uses comes from Ingardia and the chicken from Mary’s Chickens.

A multitude of items are available for delivery – pantry staples such as flour, rice, and gluten-free pasta; fresh items like marinated shrimp; fruit and veggies; pickled vegetables, frozen meatballs, and homemade dressings, dips, and sauces. 

Summer describes this access to a variety of products as a “one-stop shop.”

“A lot of people don’t want to deal with shopping and making sauces from scratch, but they want homemade.”

Recently Summer implemented a welcome gift. “We’ve been so busy, that I haven’t had time to connect with customers, so on the day of delivery, we include a mini-bouquet from Sussana at French Buckets. On Mondays, we average around 50-60 orders and deliveries, so it’s hard to give special attention.”

She is looking into expanding the meal deliveries to two days a week.

From Summer's counter

Click on photo for a larger image

Components waiting to be assembled 

Doing the math, that many meal kits equals 100-125 dinners prepared in a kitchen she subleases in Laguna.

“Saturday and Sunday are for meal testing. I’ll find a recipe, make it, and then tweak it, if necessary, on Sunday. Then on Monday, the pieces are put together in kits, and they start deliveries at noon. Everything is delivered by 5:30 p.m. in either reusable or disposable containers.”

In 2019, Summer started out using reusable containers, but during the pandemic, she switched to disposable. Concerned about the impact on the environment, she came up with a hybrid and now gives customers a choice. Most choose reusable. However, she wants to be even more environmentally friendly and is negotiating with a company for new containers – reusable quart size sheet pans with parchment, so that the food can be cooked on the parchment and only the parchment thrown away.

How Summer’s Table works:

Every Wednesday she provides a menu for the following week featuring:

three meal kits (2 or 4 person), seasonal specialty trays, and pantry items.

Customers must order by Saturday at 10 a.m. via the weekly order form. 

(There are no meal subscriptions since they don’t allow for skipping a week if necessary.)

The order is delivered Monday before dinner in an insulated bag with ice packs and reusable containers, if that’s what the customer has chosen. 

From Summer's bowls

Click on photo for a larger image

Chicken + Vegetable Sticky Noodles, Sheet Pan Shrimp, and Salmon Surprise

We’ve sampled Summer’s meal kits before, so I was eagerly anticipating another wonderful meal. This time it was Sheet Pan Shrimp, and as expected, it was amazing. It consisted of wild caught shrimp roasted with JR organics grape tomatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, a marinade of white wine, shallots, chili, and oregano – topped with fresh basil. The only prep was mixing the marinade with the ingredients and baking.

The Roasted Squash Salad with JR organic mixed greens was a tantalizing combination of sweet squash, silky burrata, and the crunch of pepitas. The caramelized onions added another layer of taste. The only prep was to assemble ingredients and toss with the cilantro and lime vinaigrette. 

All topped off with slices of baguette from Bread Artisan. 

We also got the CSA BOX which contained: Lettuce / Tomatoes / Breakfast Radishes / Kale / Oriental Spinach / Basil / Grape Tomatoes / Rainbow Carrots /  Reed Avocado / Strawberries / Pomegranate. This bounty yielded several salads, a pint of pesto, fruit for yogurt, and roasted carrots. 

Summer’s Table offers a wide variety of dishes, which Summer creates from different cultures such as – Indian, Vietnamese, Italian, Mediterranean, and Mexican.

If she has a craving for some particular dish or type of food, might it appear on the menu for that week?

“Yes, definitely,” she says.

For inspiration, Summer follows several food and wine accounts on Instagram and what is being served at restaurants. She subscribes to several food magazines – Sunset, Food and Wine, and Bon Appetit

“I want to keep relevant,” she says. “The goal is to have meals that are accessible and easy, something that you can get at a restaurant at a higher price tag.”

From Summer's dinner

Click on photo for a larger image

She likes to go to San Francisco for the food and also attends a fancy food show in February.

What’s in the future for Summer’s Table? “I started with liking the idea of making my own schedule,” she says. “My goal is to see us get to a point and then ahead of the game, so the team is able to execute the ‘show’ for a week.”

Her team consists of five part-time employees.

Although her team makes deliveries all the way to Long Beach, San Clemente, and Anaheim, Summer says half of her customers are local, with the majority being repeats. She has 15 in Emerald Bay alone.

So even though the idea of a meal kit appearing on your doorstep may seem like an illusion, it doesn’t have to be. 

Just go to www.summerstable.com.