Meal Sharing for Foodies
Disclaimer: The following is an excerpt from Chapter 4 of Part 2 of Secrets of the Sharing Economy, available at Amazon.
“The only thing I like better than talking about Food is eating” – John Walters
“Food is something holy. It’s not about nutrients and calories. It’s about sharing. It’s about honesty. It’s about identity” – Louise Fresco
Fast Company recently stated that food is the next frontier of the sharing economy. Although it’s the new frontier, the meal sharing concept is ancient.
Meal sharing is now becoming a niche in the travel and leisure market. Meal sharing is just getting started as a go-to for travelers looking for local food and experiences.
Take Sammy from New York City for instance. Sammy has never taken a cooking class but considers himself an amateur chef. Although Sammy wants to open his own restaurant, it is competitive and expensive to do so. Instead, Sammy has decided to open his own home restaurant through meal sharing websites Feastly and EatWith.
For a 5-course meal, Sammy charges $55 per person and can accommodate up to 8 guests. Sammy provides wine and beer with dinner, which makes $55 a great deal for tourists looking for a local meal and experience. For NYC, $55 including alcohol is a deal.
Sammy gets more requests for meals than he can accommodate. On average, Sammy hosts 1 meal per week. This gives Sammy a gross income of $440 a week, or $1,760 a month. After groceries Sammy says he clears approximately $1,000 a month. This is for only 4 evenings of work.
The leftovers are always nice too.
Does this sound like something you can sink your teeth into? Let’s discuss the specific platforms that you can use to experience meal sharing, or monetize your inner chef.
Feastly has been described as the Airbnb of food. And, if you have any culinary skills then Feastly might be the sharing economy platform for you. Feastly is a social marketplace where amateur chefs can connect with eaters who are seeking authentic dining experiences.
Feastly is available in San Francisco, Chicago, NYC, and Washington DC, but there are plans to expand this service throughout the U.S.
Feastly is a hybrid dining experience where you get a personal chef; yet, you are not sitting in a restaurant. You dine at the chef’s home, which allows for an intimate setting and social dining experience. A Feastly cook will create unique meals for diners who either eat the meal at the cook’s home, or a local venue.
Feastly’s ultimate goal is to lower the barrier for entry for cooks who are not professionals or who don’t have a lot of money to open their own restaurant. Feastly allows them to get into the market, meet other foodies, and facilitate a social dining experience.
A similar platform is EatWith, which is available in the North America, Australia, and Europe. EatWith is currently available in more cities than Feastly. Specifically, EatWith employs over 500 hosts in 160 cities in 30 countries around the world.
EatWith is for both professional and amateur chefs, but places a larger emphasis on the experience and hosting, not just the cooking. You can think of it more of a dinner party. The emphasis with EatWith is on authentic home cooked meals.
BonAppetour is a peer-to-peer meal-sharing service, similar to the above two platforms. BonAppetour is currently available in Europe, Australia, Asia, Africa, the U.S., and South America. BonAppetour employs 1000 hosts in 80 cities around the world.
The application process on BonAppetour is more lenient than with other platforms. The focus of BonAppetour is on home cooked meals with locals. The site attempts to do this by turning homes into local restaurants.
Most people who are successful have found a way to weave their personal stories into their hosting and cooking experience.
Glenn’s cooking starts with microwave instructions and ends with him starring at Tupperware lids. But most people aren’t like Glenn, and they can actually make money doing what they love.
There are clearly many options for foodies out there looking to make side income or provide culinary experiences. The best advice from the Casual Capitalist community is to get out there and try some of these platforms as a diner, before deciding whether its a good income strategy.
If you enjoy eating and cooking, there will be much more detail in Secrets of the Sharing Economy Part 2.