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Fresh, nutritious meals prepared at The Balanced Chef

Philomena Lawrence, Special to the Daily Sentinel
Posted 7/19/22

“A Simple Way to Eat Well. Meal Prepping Made Easy” touts the eye-catching sign displayed in The Balanced Chef’s front window, enticing foodies and restaurant patrons into the eatery ...

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Fresh, nutritious meals prepared at The Balanced Chef


ROME — “A Simple Way to Eat Well. Meal Prepping Made Easy” touts the eye-catching sign displayed in The Balanced Chef’s front window, enticing foodies and restaurant patrons into the eatery at 242 W. Dominick Street in Rome.

Owner Brian Donovan founded the business in 2015 as a one-stop-shop where customers can conveniently “Order. Heat. Eat.” “I know firsthand how time-consuming menu planning, grocery shopping, and meal preparation can be, and I recognized the need for readily available, healthy fast food in the Rome-Utica area just as it is in big cities,” notes 37-year-old Donovan, who trained at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America.

Gordon Quonce III, a police officer in nearby Syracuse and a loyal customer going on three years, echoes Donovan’s sentiments: “I work 40-plus hours a week and don’t always have time to meal prep. The Balanced Chef helps me maintain discipline in my nutritional habits, keeps me on track with healthy eating ... and my grocery bill has actually gone down.”  

Menu offerings include acai bowls, salads, wraps, hot sandwiches, quesadillas, breakfast bowls and burritos, plus smoothies and protein shakes. Donovan singles out the breakfast bowl and burrito meals -- hearty fare that includes eggs and roasted potatoes – as the “hands down” most popular items. Customers can add cheese, protein, two veggies, and a sauce from a variety of options.

The “build-your-own-meal” approach allows patrons to fine-tune their selections and control fat content, adjust carbs, eliminate red meat, or go purely vegetarian. The sandwiches, wraps, and smoothies can also be made gluten-free.

Donovan explains, “Our custom meal plan is great for people trying to follow a wide variety of health-related goals – losing weight, lowering sodium intake or cholesterol levels, or building muscle.”

Nutritional information, plus heating/cooking instructions, are displayed on the individually sealed packaging.

Whether dining in or opting for take-out, patrons will be entertained by the eatery’s eclectic decor, which includes concrete flooring, farm tables, a ceiling festooned with hanging bicycles and cascading plants, and an oversized mural depicting iconic Mohawk Valley landmarks such as Woodstock ‘99, Griffiss Air Force Base, and Revere Ware Copper Products.

Indoor seating accommodates approximately 30 diners, with ample outdoor seating in an area shared with adjacent businesses.  

Some customers, including Quonce, choose home delivery, available both locally and across state lines.For two-day service via FedEx, orders are shipped on ice. Donovan points out that the specially designed equipment used to package the meals allows for an extended shelf-life of 8 to 10 days, if the food is refrigerated upon delivery. This feature is ideal for out-of-towners, who can order meals in advance for elderly and disabled relatives as well as loved ones residing in the Mohawk Valley.  

The restaurant also offers several incentives, including discounted prices when ordering the seven-, 14- and 21-meal packages including daily discount specials on in-store offers and an everyday 10 percent discount for first responders. 

Donovan acknowledges that the pandemic caused a sharp decline in sales at almost all restaurants, including his. “People who regularly work out in gyms tend to eat healthy food. When the gyms closed during the pandemic, we experienced a significant loss in business,” he said.  

However, the restaurateur’s optimism for the future is reflected in his plans to extend the weekday hours of operation and add brunch specials on Saturdays. As he confidently confirms, “We are determined to grow and help people reach their nutritional goals.”  

Grateful patron Quonce plans to “pay it forward” in helping the restaurant achieve success:”I absolutely will always recommend The Balanced Chef ... Its customer service is exceptional.”

The Balanced Chef is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m Saturday.   




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