Cookapp enables amateur chefs to dodge restaurant licensing laws and create a pop-up restaurant right in their front room
There’s no shortage of amateur chefs looking to flaunt their culinary skills in a more professional capacity, and we’ve already seen Un Jour, Un Chef welcoming those amateurs as head chefs in a Parisian restaurant. Looking to target that same market, Cookapp now enables amateur chefs to create a pop-up restaurant right in their front room.
Not everyone can become a registered chef through the app however. Prospective hosts must first sign up — usually through Facebook — and fill out an application. Their home and kitchen will then undergo safety checks, and they will be asked to serve an audition dinner, which will be documented by a professional food photographer sent by Cookapp. These measures enable the service to ensure that the dinning experience is always safe and of a high quality, with potential chefs even being judged on their hosting ability.
Becoming a dinner, on the other hand, is a less gruelling affair. Anyone can sign up — again, usually through Facebook — and they are encouraged to offer a donation — usually between USD40 to USD60 — for the meal, in order to cover the host’s costs. Afterwards, diners are encouraged to rate the experience, and, perhaps as a result of the careful chef screening process, co-founder Pedro Rivas claims 95 percent of reviews are four to five stars.
By operating on a “donation” model, the app is attempting to dodge the NYC Health Department, which is against meals being sold outside of registered restaurants or vendors. Other concerns may arise from security issues, although a degree of comfort can be taken from the fact that the majority of attendees will have signed up through Facebook, enabling hosts to screen their party before welcoming them into their home. As a final measure, however, Cookapp does collect contact and credit card information from guests, which enables them to potentially track someone down after an event.
Originally founded in Argentina the app has already seen success in Buenos Aires with 41,000 users amassed in its first year, and is now focused on conquering New York. How else could new platforms give amateurs a chance to perform in a more professional capacity?