Sramana: What year was it when you finally decided to leave real estate and start Fresh Diet?
Zalmi Duchman: It was November 2005. I was 25 years old with a 4-year-old daughter and a pregnant wife.
Sramana: What went on in your mind at that time? What did you envision the company to be?
Zalmi Duchman: When I called Yosef, I told him about a company called Zone Diet Delivery. I had heard of the company five years earlier when a high school friend’s father was involved in a commercial. His father was filming a commercial with Rich Fox of the L.A. Lakers about Zone Chefs, the company that did Zone Diet. I proposed to Yosef that we should do the same concept but with kosher food. He then told me that somebody had just told him about it, and as soon as that hit my mind I knew I had to do something.
I immediately went to Google and searched for it. I found a few mom and pops in L.A. and New York. I found Zoom Chefs and Zone Diet Delivery online. I wanted to find someone who was doing it in Florida, approach them, and offer to create a kosher line for them. That lasted about nine minutes because I could not find anyone in Florida doing that business, at which time I decided to take on the challenge myself.
Sramana: At that point your vision was to deliver home-cooked kosher meals in Florida?
Zalmi Duchman: The thought of doing a kosher business left as soon as I realized that nobody was doing anything similar. In reality we had a kosher operation for the first six months because we ran it out of my house, and that was the kitchen we were using. However, I never advertised the business as a kosher business. If somebody called up and asked why they did not see any pork, I just answered that it was not good for the diet. I avoided the kosher label because I did not want to limit myself.
There did happen to be two other business operating here. I bought one of them out, and the other still exists on Google. By the time I found out about the other operations, I was already a year into the business.
Sramana: Did you quit your job immediately?
Zalmi Duchman: For the first three months I worked the two jobs at the same time. I took clients in Miami and Boca, which is a long drive. I would leave work at 5 p.m., stop and the grocery store and pick up food for the five or six clients I had. I took the food home where my wife and someone that helped her would cook three meals and two snacks for them. I would leave at midnight when they were done and do my deliveries between midnight and 6 a.m. I would then catch three hours of sleep and go do my day job.