NFL Player Joins Bodybuilder Chef in Food Delivery Business
New York Business Journal
October 6, 2015
by Teresa Novellino
If you saw Steve Weatherford and Carlo Filippone coming at you in a dark alley, the last thing you might think is that they must be healthy-food entrepreneurs with big plans to deliver dinner to your door.
But the two men know their kale and their free-range chicken, and at an event in Manhattan last night, the barrel-chested, three-time bodybuilding champion chef Filippone, announced that NFL free agent Weatherford has become his new business partner on Elite Lifestyle Cuisine. It is a meal-delivery company that ships nationwide with a focus on meals that are perfectly proportioned when it comes to proteins, carbohydrates and grains—and not just for athletes, but for anyone looking for a healthy change.
Filippone, who spent years as a healthy Italian cuisine chef in New Jersey, first started making meals for fitness clients in a facility that was located inside a New Jersey gym. As demand for his meals in a box grew among busy executives and fitness aficionados, he moved into a cooking facility in Clifton, N.J., and transformed the business into a flash-freezing operation that seals in the freshness for home delivery via FedEx. Enter Weatherford, who was in training out in California and had tried dozens of meal delivery services before Elite Lifestyle Cuisine, and promptly fell for the product.
“I loved the meals, I restocked it and said [to Carlo] I absolutely love this I want to become involved, what do you think about sitting down with me and talking?” Weatherford, a former punter for the New York Giants (and a Super Bowl champion) said in an interview with the New York Business Journal. It was the first meal service he had that was not only healthy and filling, but also satisfied his taste buds.
From there, it was a matter of combining their fields of expertise and tweaking the recipes to appeal to a wider audience.
“Steve came on board and we started figuring out how to make it better, with different ratios of protein, carbohydrates and fat,” Filippone said, noting that the football player was especially not interested in a lot of carbs.
“I think if we all view our body as a high-performance machine—you only want to put the best fuel in it,” said Weatherford.
Before football, he was pre-med in college and has had a passion for nutrition since he was a teenager, Weatherford said. But as a professional football player and a father of four, he was looking for the type of meal that his young children and wife would enjoy so that he wasn’t the only one eating differently. Now, the company is offering family portions to suit people like him, with lots of mouths to feed and a desire to have everyone eat healthily. His children now grab his vegetable lasagna out of the freezer before he can get to it.
Weatherford says this is no sneaker endorsement by an athlete. He plans to be heavily involved with the company, especially in the off-season, although he’ll leave the cooking to Filippone. For his part, Filippone says he believes their company, which is self-funded, has a distinct advantage over startups like Blue Apron and Plated, which offer ingredients to home chefs and delivers them to their doorsteps, but are too time-consuming for most American families.
“What they preach is there’s a certain level of intimacy when couples get home and cook a meal together,” Filippone said. “I think the harsh reality is they would rather just put something in the microwave and be done with it.”