TORONTO — Apps that allow home chefs to sell dishes prepared in their personal kitchens have cropped up in Canada, but uncertainties about health regulations and the strength of consumer demand are raising questions about whether the business models are blue ribbon-worthy or half-baked fads.
Food-sharing platform LaPiat, which plans to launch in April, provides a platform for entrepreneurial cooks in the Greater Toronto Area to make some extra cash from home. Users can take pictures of their dishes to advertise and sell them at any price they set, leaving pick up and delivery to the cook and diner to work out.
Creator Arber Puci said the app spawned from the idea that everyone has friends and family who are amazing cooks and can use that talent to make some extra money, while consumers will find it cheaper than restaurants, take-out joints or other food delivery services such as Uber Eats.
The app targets home cooks like parents who are making lunch for their kids and can easily put together a few more portions to “make some cash on the side,” said Puci, who will take a five per cent cut from chefs using the platform.
Predecessors Tffyn, Homefed and MealSurfers all launched in Toronto in the last few years, but appear to have since vanished, leaving behind rival app Kouzina, which hit the market in August.
Kouzina creator Nick Amaral said when he first researched similar apps he found “one or two” in Canada that ended up folding, but he feels the times have changed since then.
“We are getting more used to having services provided from people that we maybe don’t know as first,” he said.
Kouzina takes a six per cent cut from every item sold on the app. Kouzina has seen increasing numbers of customers and cooks, selling everything from fresh fettuccine and lasagna for $7 a serving to vanilla and raspberry Bavarian cakes for $25.
Both Puci and Amaral said they don’t inspect the kitchens and instead rely on phone interviews, copies of food handlers certifications or customer rating systems to weed out those offering substandard customer service and food.
Amaral said he relies on a review and rating system for governance.
“Even one bad review I think would be enough to deter people,” he said. “Good reviews will speak for themselves.”
The lack of inspection comes as no surprise to Sylvanus Thompson, an associate director at Toronto Public Health, who said TPH has had intervene a few times. Many of the owners and the home cooks preparing and selling food for such apps are not aware that they are subject to food premise regulations that require their kitchen undergo regular inspections from municipal staff and be zoned for commercial food activities, he said.
As a result, “some of them got out of the business,” but Thompson said TPH knows that the “growing” number of homemade food apps is something “we don’t intend to stop.”
“We want to be able to work with these people to ensure compliance and safe food,” he added.
He chalked up the emergence of …read more
Source:: Nationalpost – News