Your kids pile in the car from a long day at school with their athletic gear, musical instruments and homework sprawled all over the back seat. As you’re scrambling to get them home and detach your mind from the stresses of your own work day, you groan inwardly, bracing yourself for the inevitable question.
“Hey, what’s for dinner?”
Because you most likely loathe your too-often- used response:
“You want to go through a drive through?”
Get ready for good news, because gone are the days of fast food suppers and microwave meals. With Rome’s own Dinner Diva cooking for your family, you can tackle all the various obstacles of your day and serve up something fresh, nutritious and filling for you and yours.
Meals Made Convenient
Holly Lord was inspired to start her Dinner Diva business in 2012 while on a beach trip with her friend, Ginger Wright. It was from their conversation that her idea for Dinner Diva, a mobile meal machine and catering business, was born.
“Ginger and I were kicking around ideas for recipes and such,” says Lord. “We both love to cook and our families are close; we spend a lot of time together and a huge chunk of that time is spent cooking.”
At that time, Lord was working as a pharmaceutical rep, but she and Ginger lamented about the difficulties of having full time jobs, full time families, and frequently, fast food fallbacks. “It’s always a struggle when you’re providing for a family, balancing work and the kids’ school schedules and other activities and at the same time, having good dinners ready to go,” says Lord. “You run out of time to make those healthy meals at home, not because you don’t want to or because you’re not capable of making them, but because you’re just so busy.”
Lord began thinking about how convenient it would be for people to pick up healthy meals of a home-cooked, family-dinner quality on their way home from their hectic day.
“I thought about it a lot and finally I decided to just try it and see what happened,” Lord says. “I sent out a text message to my close friends asking, ‘If I make you dinner, would you just try it and see what your kids and family think about it?’”
She started her journey as a Dinner Diva on a small scale. Starting off with dinners for small groups, birthday lunches and appetizers; she soon found her cooking was in high demand.
“It caught on and I decided to make it more than a hobby,” she says. “Last spring, my husband Art and I invested in a mobile commercial kitchen, and now I cook for families and cater events full-time.”
Fresh Eats & Catering
Lord prepares all her meals onsite in her curbside kitchen. Nothing is prepackaged; she uses fresh meats, organic vegetables and the best ingredients for her recipes.
“Some of my most popular dishes are my bruschetta chicken and my Skinny Chicken Enchiladas,” she says. “Those are extremely popular.”
Her Skinny Chicken Enchiladas consist of mouth-watering chicken smothered in a homemade smoky red sauce with cheese and cilantro lightly sprinkled on top. She also makes a mean Mediterranean pasta salad.
“The pasta is tossed with my homemade balsamic marinade and palmetto olives with spinach and feta cheese,” she says. “Anything with my homemade balsamic marinade is a fan favorite.”
Dinners can be pre-ordered online at dinnerdivarome.com, where people can subscribe to see in advance what Lord is making that week. Her pick up days are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. People who are ordering for Tuesday pick up should pre-order by Sunday night and those wanting to snag dinner on Thursday must pre-order by Tuesday night. Lord sends a notification out to all her subscribers letting them know where her pick-up location will be, but it’s usually at 195 Chatillon Road in Rome. She says her Dinner Diva truck is always in a central location to best serve her customers.
All her Skinny Meals, Lord says, have calories and Weight Watcher points listed on her website so families can keep their nutrition in check. She can also tweak her recipes for food allergies and even has gluten free options.
Lord also branches out from prepared dinners to catering for special events.
“My Skinny Dinners are in high demand, but from day one, I started getting so many catering calls,” says Lord. “Dinner Diva catering services are definitely at the forefront. I’ve done small, in- home dinner parties, plated meals and food for much larger events.”
With the holidays just around the corner, Lord anticipates business picking up as she’ll be ready to prepare some festive favorites.
“During the holidays, I do non-skinny meals,” she chuckles. “People want to order appetizers and
specialty desserts. And it’s convenient, because people get so busy during holidays between shopping, family gatherings and parties. It makes it easy for people to be able to take making a dish off their to-do list and just pick something up.”
Embracing Her Passion
As a self-taught chef, Lord says her love for all-things-culinary came from closely watching the women in her family prepare meals.
“My grandmother was an amazing cook, and so is my mom,” she says. “Food has always been a big deal in my family; cooking is something we just enjoy doing. And I always paid attention. When I got older I’d tell my mom, ‘I need you to write down the recipe for your carrot cake. I need the recipe for your Thanksgiving dressing.’”
Lord says all those years of sampling and later, experimenting, was part of the learning process.
“I learned a long time ago that a recipe is just a guideline,” she says. “You can follow a recipe step-by-step but it doesn’t always reach its fullest potential. Cooking great food is about tasting and trying. It’s about manipulating recipes depending on the taste of what people like.”
Now Lord says it fulfills her passion to be a Dinner Diva serving the families of Rome delicious dinners on-the-go.
“Back when I was ready to make a career change, my daughter asked me, ‘Mom, what do you love to do?’ I thought about it and I said, ‘I really love to cook for people.’ It brings me joy. Being able to do this and helping other people is a blessing to me because I enjoy it so much.”
Find out more about Dinner Diva at dinnerdivarome.com, on Instagram and Facebook or contact Holly Lord at 770.547.4731