Patrick Carr and Sergio Pereira are making their dreams come true, one dish at a time
This profile is part of Slaying it: Vancouver's top young professionals, a blog series about the talented young people in Vancouver who are killing it every day. #SlayingItVanTopPros
2GuysWithKnives are more than what their name suggests. True, the two guys, Sergio Pereira and Patrick Carr, use their knives to create delicious yet nutritious meals delivered to their customers’ homes. But the entire effort takes more than just knives.
Sergio and Patrick have used their hearts and passion in helping others to build a successful service enjoyed by hundreds of people in the Lower Vancouver mainland. Along the way, they’ve developed a business that employs a team of 22 individuals, including kitchen staff, delivery members and administration.
Business is booming these days, with 2GuysWithKnives increasing its business 300 percent in 2016. Last year, Sergio and Patrick also signed their first wholesale account with Body Energy Club, to whom the guys deliver co-branded items to four times a week. And there seems to be a world of endless opportunity knocking on the door.
So it’s hard to imagine that four years ago, Patrick and Sergio (who also happen to be a couple), were preparing their unique pre-packaged meals in the kitchen of their former Yaletown condo. Orders were placed through Facebook Messenger, emails and text.
“It happened really organically,” recalls Patrick. “We never sat down and said to each other, ‘let’s start a meal prep company’. I had a mobile personal training business and nutrition was a big part of what I did with my clients. I would do meal plans for them, and provide them with recipes and shopping lists. It got to the point where my clients started to ask, ‘Hey, can you make the meals for me?’ So that’s kind of how the idea started.”
Coincidentally, Sergio, who worked as a professional chef, was being asked the same question. He often prepared delicious meals at home to eat at work during his breaks. It wasn’t long before his fabulous creations caught the eye of his co-worker, who asked Sergio if he could cook for him as well – for a fee, of course.
“I thought, sure, why not? Right now, I cook for two people…I could cook for three,” notes Sergio. “After I gave him his food, my co-worker started posting photos of it on Facebook and all these people started to like the posts.” Before long, a lot of people were blowing up Sergio’s phone, hoping to hire him to prepare meals for them.
Before they were 2GuysWithKnives
Sergio grew up in Brazil, where he graduated from the Culinary Institute of Brazil. “I almost got a job offer in Brazil but didn’t get it because I couldn’t speak English very well,” he explains. “So I moved to Vancouver to learn English. It was supposed to be for 10 months, but my boss in Vancouver sponsored me to stay.”
Meanwhile, Patrick was pursuing a career as a personal trainer and actor, after years of playing sports such as basketball, and track and field, as well as teaching snowboarding and competing in obstacle races. The two met through a mutual friend when they were both visiting Toronto for Pride in 2012.
“After we met, I went to New York for a week. When I got back to Vancouver, I texted Sergio and he didn’t respond,” recalls Patrick. “So I thought this guy is a flake.”
Sergio had broken his phone since the initial meeting, and thus wasn’t able to check his texts. When he finally got a new phone, he remembers seeing a long sequence of text messages from Patrick.
“Oh whatever!” denies Patrick. “It there’s one things about Brazilians, it’s that they know how to fabricate a story. I messaged him only once and when he didn’t get back to me, I thought, whatever. But of course – he did get back to me eventually.”
When the two guys finally re-connected, Patrick invited Sergio over to help him prepare Sangria for his upcoming party. Their relationship took off and eventually their business, 2GuysWithKnives, followed suit.
What sets 2GuysWithKnives apart?
The appeal of the 2GuysWithKnives experience is that the meals are packed full of lean proteins, low glycemic carbohydrates and generous portions of vegetables. In addition, everything is gluten-free. And all meals are delivered to clients’ homes free-of-charge, a service that is unmatched by another other meal prep company in Vancouver. Sergio’s background as a professional chef also means that each meal is deliciously flavourful, creative and well-presented. Patrick’s background as an elite athlete, personal trainer and nutritionist ensures all products are also healthy and designed for top athletic performance.
When operating their business out of their home kitchen was no longer feasible, Sergio and Patrick moved into a shared kitchen space in Richmond. While considerably larger than their personal kitchen, the restricted access to the shared commercial space came with a lot of stress and time crunches. This brought about a move into another shared kitchen facility in Surrey. Finally in 2016, 2GuysWithKnives relocated to its current workspace; a large, open-concept facility that includes a spacious kitchen and lofty office area, located just east of the Oak Street Bridge. This time, the space is all theirs.
Every week, Sergio and Patrick craft an updated menu that consists of five new entrees, breakfast and dessert. On the menu, you can also always find a selection of juices and “Grab & Go Snack Attack” products such as fruit cups. There’s also the guys’ trademark Protein Bites, intended to provide quick boosts of energy before and after workouts.
“I do the nutritional analysis of everything. And we look at what’s trending in nutrition at the moment, what’s seasonal and what people are gravitating towards. We try to draw from as many different backgrounds as we can,” explains Patrick.
He adds, “We offer customizations for everything as well, which range from paleo to vegan/vegetarian and so on. The base structure of each dish contains the same design – protein, carbohydrates and vegetables. But the components change based on dish style, dietary restrictions and preferences.”
Serving up new dishes every week is a fantastic opportunity for Sergio, as he’s able to unleash his passion for cooking and exploring different varieties of food. “As a professional chef, this gives me a chance to do so many different styles – French, Asian, Cuban, Brazilian, etc.”
How is the food so delicious and satisfying while still being healthy?
An example of one of the duos’ trademark creations is their take on the traditional Caesar salad, which for them is a combination of a kale/romaine base with turkey bacon and organic chicken. The vegan dressing is made from tofu and has the flavour of parmesan cheese – except there’s no actual parmesan involved. Instead, the parmesan flavour comes from a combination of walnuts, garlic, nutritional yeast and olive oil.
Portion sizes are always generous, but likely won’t leave you feeling overly full or bloated. “The fact that all our food is gluten-free really helps with this,” explains Patrick. “For example, when we do pasta, we use a gluten-free pasta. Even when the portion is large, it doesn’t weigh down your digestion. It helps move things really efficiently in your system. The gluten-free pasta is made out of corn and quinoa. But we also sometimes do raw zucchini that’s shredded to look like pasta. It’s super light and high in fibre.”
Patrick and Sergio have come up with a signature Alfredo sauce to go with their pasta. While sinfully delicious, the sauce is low in calories and fat. The secret? Coconut milk and vegan butter, which results in a light sauce with the same flavour as traditional Alfredo. “With vegan butter, the name is deceiving. Because there’s no actual butter involved. It’s made out of protein and flax, so it still has the same flavour of butter,” says Patrick.
Once the weekly menu has been confirmed, the roll-out process starts on Tuesday mornings when Sergio leads his kitchen staff in creating the new products. “My team is always so excited,” exclaims Sergio. “Throughout the week, I teach them how to do everything step-by-step. And then finally on Saturday we have the final product. And my team goes, ‘Oh wow, look at this – it’s amazing!’ And they taste everything and are super happy. The whole process is very exciting and happy.”
On Sunday mornings, the new weekly menu is updated on the website. Customers have until Thursday evening to go online and select the items they would like to order. Deliveries are made Sundays and Mondays, and customers select a two-hour delivery period window during one of those days. 2GuysWithKnives delivers throughout Lower Mainland Vancouver, including North and West Vancouver, Richmond, New Westminster, Burnaby, North Surrey, Coquitlam and Port Moody.
What’s next for the guys?
Now that the guys have had a chance to settle into their new digs, they sky’s the limit. “We want to build 2GuysWithKnives into more than just a food service. We want it to be a lifestyle service,” states Patrick. “We want to integrate a stronger fitness platform in what we offer and make it interactive. Whether that means uploading a weekly video to compliment that week’s menu, or whether it’s a section on our website where people can go for video and fitness info. We want to make our beand a more full-rounded base.”
Sergio also has further dreams for the business. “I would like to write a lifestyle/recipe book,” he notes. “First of all, because people are always asking about our recipes. But secondly, because a lot of people recognize that we’re a couple, and we feel we can help inspire other couples in living healthy, happy lives.”
The pair also plan on expanding their business out east, specifically to Toronto and Montreal, where there appears to be large potential markets for 2GuysWithKnives’ services.
“Each level that we get to is all new to us. This is the first time we’ve ever done any of this,” remarks Patrick.
With a gleam in his eyes, Sergio smiles and says, “This is a dream come true.”
Visit the 2GuysWithKnives website to find out more about their products and how to order them.