Chef Mike Smith grew up in kitchens, cutting his culinary teeth at his family’s Italian restaurant in Hollywood. After attending The Art Institute of California in Santa Monica, he worked at the Playboy Mansion, Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, and on Restaurant Row on La Cienega. He and business partner Jay Smith (no relation) had planned to open their own restaurant in Los Angeles, but when a family member’s pet began having seizures in 2007, they turned their attention to researching a diet that could help the dog. After seeing improvement from homemade meals, Smith, 36, moved to the desert to launch FreshFetch. He and his three-person staff hand-prepare about 500 fresh pet meals a day in their Palm Springs commercial kitchen, using only California-sourced human-grade meats, fruits, and vegetables.
Why did you choose Palm Springs to base your business?
We looked in Los Angeles, but I always wanted to be in Palm Springs. When we looked at the cost of commercial space, the overhead and the cost of living out here was so much less than in Hollywood. We had no idea that this was such a dog-loving community until we got here. People really love their dogs here!
How did FreshFetch begin?
When Jay’s sister’s dog was diagnosed, we came up with a solution: Home cook for the dog. We realized that every dog food on the market is a processed product. All the kibble, all the canned — even if organic or holistic — are all processed, because they need no refrigeration, and they have a million-year shelf life. We were never intended to eat an all-processed diet. We need fruits and vegetables. [Dogs] need fresh meats that are cooked and not made into kibble.
What is different about FreshFetch Real Meals for Dogs?
[Before dog food companies], people gave their dogs table scraps. So, it’s not actually what we do to our food; it’s what we don’t do to our food. We keep it in its purest form. We have a variety of products: beef, chicken, lamb, salmon, and turkey. Our food is potato and sweet potato, peas, carrots, salmon oil, olive oil, flaxseeds, sea kelp, and a daily vitamin, and it has blueberries on top as well. The only processing we do is freeze and Cryovac. Our food is prepared for you, so you don’t have to cook for your dog every day.
What benefits have you noticed with your own dogs?
I have two 60-pound pit bulls. They have clean teeth, no goop or brown stuff in their eyes, and no food allergies. They don’t smell, and they have a lot less waste. Both dogs have been to the vet for their shots, and have no health problems.
FreshFetch Real Meals for Dogs is available at Jensen’s Fine Foods, Bones-n-Scones, and Whole Foods markets. Visit www.freshfetchpetfoods.com.