When Krissy Ostermiller opened YA•YE inside Zepellin Station in February, a meal delivery service was already part of the plan. The cafe was set to be only the first step of a larger vision of providing a menu of entirely organic, plant-based, dairy-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and seed-based, oil-free food to the broadest possible audience. The brick and mortar location lasted for little more than a month before the pandemic hit, closing its doors between March 16 – June 1.
Despite the closure, Ostermiller formally launched the meal kit service in May — keeping on schedule with her original plan. While the delivery option has been serendipity for the mass of diners hoping to continue eating healthy at home, the project’s fruition has been more a timely fortuity than a necessary pivot. “People are more open to adopting meal services now than ever,” said Ostermiller. Despite reopening for all of June, the cafe has since closed again and is committed to remaining so at least through the end of July.
For Ostermiller, creating and distributing top-tier, health-oriented cuisine has always been motivated by a desire to help others at their foundation. “It’s all about the why. We want to transform people’s lives through real foods,” she said, noting the tremendous effect proper eating has on mental health. Nutritional diversity — evidenced by bright plates and carefully-sourced ingredients — has been central to both on-site and delivered menus. “Eating colorfully is very important,” she explained. Each dish comes with a list not only of the ingredients but a superfood spotlight, highlighting key benefits of primary components.
While the self-taught Ostermiller developed the cafe’s menu largely through a combination of experimentation and tinkering with recipes she found online, the evolving delivery options are the result of a collaboration between her and former Vital Root sous chef Jessica Chambers. Working out of a production kitchen in Arvada, Chambers has done a good job of forwarding the initial vision. “She’s completely elevated it,” beamed Ostermiller, noting that while she continues to set parameters, Chambers has a large degree of creative control when it comes to the individual dishes.
The delivery system is set up with a 22-mile radius, covering large swathes of the metro area, Golden and Boulder. Meal plans can be ordered as either three ($100 for one-time, $90 with subscription) or six-day packages ($200 for one-time, $180 with subscription), with individual portions arriving for both lunch and dinner. The menu is set to continually highlight new dishes, with favorite repeat items occurring every three to four weeks based on customer feedback. Individual pop-up meals — including last weekend’s Fourth of July Feast — are expected to join the traditional roster. Despite only launching locally in May, Ostermiller plans to extend to out-of-state delivery within two months, with California and Washington acting as the first additional markets.
The menu itself clearly benefits from contributions by both Ostermiller and Chambers, with Ostermiller’s penchant for puns still informing some of the titles. Plates like the Something to Taco ‘Bout Salad with grilled pineapple pico de gallo and the Love Your Melon Salad — with mixed greens, watermelon, cantaloupe, red onion, mint and a sublime blueberry chia vinaigrette — both call to mind the cafe’s selections. Other dishes like the roasted garlic cauliflower alfredo — with chickpea pasta, cauliflower-coconut milk alfredo sauce, rainbow chard, tomato, asparagus and roasted mushrooms — reveal Chambers’ culinary chops. While the weekly menu will be in constant flux, items like house-made cashew ranch, hemp “parmesan” and a range of radiant vegetables can always be expected to push the envelope on what can be expected from plant-based cuisine.
When the cafe re-opens all of Ostermiller’s juices and smoothies are expected to remain, with Chambers’ delivery options being made available for on-site as grab-and-go. While many meal plans strive towards promoting well-being, YA•YE’s honest and impassioned approach has set them apart from their peers for its commitment to real nutrition and delighting the senses.
YA•YE Signature Meal Plans and a variety of a la carte juice and dessert options can be ordered here.
Photography by Adrienne Thomas and courtesy of Krissy Ostermiller.