Chef-Made Meals Delivered to Your Table? NYC Now Has a Subscription for That.
Brooklyn-based CookUnity is the first direct chef-to-consumer meal subscription platform
Up there with owning a Rolex, driving a Porsche and wearing a goofy cowboy hat to the edge of space on your personal rocket, having a personal chef is a symbol of wealth that is a fantasy for many that is attainable only to a select few.
CookUnity, a Brooklyn-based food tech company that launched in 2018, is out to change that.
Founded by Mateo Marietti, CookUnity is a chef-to-consumer meal-subscription platform that allows customers to order as few as four and as many as 16 chef-prepared meals each week and have them delivered to their doorstep. Featuring well-known chefs with their own restaurants as well as up-and-comers who are just getting their start, CookUnity offers an ever-changing selection of restaurant-quality meals that are cooked in two massive kitchens, one in L.A. and one in Brooklyn.
With pricing starting at $10.49 per meal, CookUnity is priced competitively for consumers and is also attractive to chefs: they get a 15-35% cut of every meal, providing them with an alternative revenue stream and the chance to grow their brand without having to worry about renting a kitchen, buying ingredients, paying delivery services or washing dishes. Still growing, the service is available in more than half of the United States.
“CookUnity is an exciting proposition during these times, when the demand for wholesome and delicious home cooking is higher than ever,” says chef Einat Admony, who runs multiple restaurants and also authored the cookbook Balaboosta. “My dishes on the platform are the kinds of comforting meals I love to eat at home with my family and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share them with people all around the country.”
Marietti, who co-founded a sushi delivery service in Buenos Aires and co-opened several restaurants before moving to New York City and creating CookUnity, tells InsideHook that one of the driving forces behind the platform was the desire to put the “arts” back in “culinary arts.”
“CookUnity was founded on two ideas: to bring consumers an elevated, chef-prepared experience in their home and give independent chefs an opportunity to share their passion for cooking beyond the confines of a restaurant kitchen and lifestyle, enabling them to scale and grow beyond those four walls,” he says. “Where most chefs cook someone else’s menu over and over, CookUnity is focused on putting the chef back in the center of the food universe and allowing chefs to showcase their talents to an audience beyond a physical location.”
Although CookUnity provides restaurant-quality food, Marietti insists the platform is not intended to compete with brick-and-mortar eateries and hurt their bottom lines. “We don’t think we are replacing that moment of going out in a restaurant. We’re not even close,” he says. “We’re not necessarily about enjoying that wine in the restaurant or celebrating a moment. We believe restaurants are ideal for those use cases. But the other 89% of meals, you’re not necessarily doing that. I think those are two very different use cases. In that sense, we really want to elevate the way people eat in their homes.”
Clearly popular with customers based on its rate of expansion, CookUnity has been equally as popular with its chefs.
“CookUnity was a no-brainer for me and my partners from the beginning,” chef Jordan Andino of NYC Filipino taco joint Flip Sigi, explains. “The style and presentation of our food is refined and delivered to our guests in a manner that’s difficult to execute, but CookUnity delivers. I’ve always wanted to get my food in front of more people and show my consumer base that my food is tasty both at my restaurant and reheated at home.”
It’s even enabled some chefs, like Mökbar’s Esther Choi, to hire back furloughed staff members.
“Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for chefs to diversify and forced consumers to find new ways to access fresh and elevated meals to enjoy at home,” she says. “CookUnity has been integral in allowing me to hire back valuable team members and expand my reach beyond the physical constraints of our restaurant.”
It’s counter-intuitive, but if CookUnity is helping the restaurant industry by making it easier for us to eat high-quality food at home, we’re all for it. Finally getting that personal chef, at least in a way, ain’t bad either. Bon appétit .
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