Chef Thomas Ricci: Gobble & Sunbasket

Chef Thomas Ricci has always felt at home when cooking, starting at the age of six, when he first began experimenting with ingredients in his parents’ kitchen. At just 19-years-old, fresh from studying at the New York Culinary Institute of America, Ricci moved across the country to begin his culinary journey at Aqua in San Francisco. From here, he quickly launched into the area’s storied and competitive fine-dining scene, earning his mettle while cooking at celebrated and prominent restaurants such as Michael Mina’s St. Francis and Roland Passot’s LB Steak, in addition to opening  several restaurants including Lapis, Elan Vital, and Olio. Throughout his career, Chef Thomas has been repeatedly recognized for his excellence with awards and honors including being named the San Francisco Chronicle’s Rising Star Chef in California in 2001 and being considered for a prestigious James Beard Award in 2000. 

In 2014, Chef Thomas joined Gobble as Executive Chef and co-founder because he believes in the power of food to help bring people together, and wanted to apply the skills and artistry he learned in some of the country’s best kitchens to help people across the United States have more opportunity to enjoy homemade meals without all the hassle. For the past nine years, he’s brought his exceptional culinary training to the Gobble test kitchen, where he seamlessly engineers complex flavor profiles into easy-to-use ingredients that help everyday home cooks get dinner on the table in about 15 minutes. 

For the past year, Chef Thomas has worked to align Gobble with its new sister brand, Sunbasket—under parent company Intelligent Foods—creating partnership between the individual brands’ culinary teams and driving efficiencies in kitchen operations and product alignment, while simultaneously ensuring each brands’ distinctive identities are retained at the forefront.

Chef Thomas’s contributions to Gobble have led the brand to becoming one of the few meal kit delivery brands to reach sustained profitability. He has also ensured Sunbasket continues to maintain its commitment to providing organic and dietary-focused, clean eating with global influence, that’s delicious and simple for home cooks to prepare. 

Currently, as Vice President of Culinary Development at Intelligent Foods, Chef Thomas is focused on developing efficiencies and optimizations for Gobble and Sunbasket, creating fresh, new concepts to satisfy customers’ appetites for delicious home cooked meals, while meeting their needs for a more effortless meal prep. In addition, he is driving the product development on the B2B operations of the business, wherein the company is partnering with emerging food companies as a contract manufacturer positioned to help grow private label brands.

Chef Thomas’s pedigreed culinary background paired with his experience developing meal kits for home cooks make him the authority on saving time and energy in the kitchen, while keeping all the flavor. His top four meal prep hacks are:  

  • Use grip shelf liners under your cutting board, so your board doesn’t slide everywhere while you do your knife-work, you’ll see your skills improve immediately, and they are cheap, simple to store, and simple to clean. 
  • Invest in a vacuum sealer or small tupperware containers and cook larger batches of sauces and ingredients, to freeze and use those components a second time in the future. You’ll save time and money as you only need to shop for your ingredients once. It’s also great for those large protein store runs, and you can marinate, seal and freeze for when you want a quick sheet pan dinner with lots of flavor. 
  • For a simple flavor and garnish on top of ordinary vegetables or simple pasta dishes, make a simple “Pangrattato” of old bread crumbs or panko, sauteed in a pan with a little butter or extra virgin olive oil, and finished with your favorite herbs, spices, lemon zest, or cheese. It adds a simple wow factor that packs texture and flavor to your meal. 
  • Don’t forget to pat dry your chicken skin before searing a skin-on chicken breast. Once that skin is dry, wait until the pan is nice and hot before cooking. These two steps ensure the perfect browning—also known as the Maillard reaction. This chemical reaction between amino acids and natural sugars yields a rich brown color and deep, “meaty” flavor and aroma.