What is “Cookin”? A new app that delivers homemade meals
Toronto-based ‘Cookin’ platform offers a wide range of dishes from different cuisines, prepared with love and care by local food creators
Home-cooked meals for the whole family were something special for Chutikarn Amsakul, a 29-year-old Thai cook who moved to Toronto two years ago.
Amsakul, who is called Mo, says she vividly remembers the taste of the food her grandmother cooked to feed three generations in the family of six.
“Eating my grandmother’s food made me happy,” she recalls. “My family is Thai-Chinese, so some of the food I ate when I was young was mixed with Chinese influence.”
Watching her grandmother cook delicious dishes from her native cuisine had a big influence on Mo and inspired her to pursue a culinary career.
“I love to cook and I love when people eat my food and say, ‘Whoa, what is that? It’s amazing!” recalls Mo. “I love the feeling that people like and enjoy my food.”
One summer day, she received an interesting offer that caught her eye: Cookin, a new Toronto-based food delivery start-up, invited her to join the platform to cook and sell meals from home.
“I said yes because I think it’s a good idea to be able to sell my food online,” she says.
Launched by longtime friends and entrepreneurs Michael Baruch and Morley Ivers, Cookin is a new platform that serves as a marketplace for cooks and chefs to share their craft and their passion for cooking – and earn money doing it. doing.
“Cookin is my life’s work,” said Ivers, co-founder and CEO of Cookin. “He has the power to bring people together and amazing food makers.”
Ivers says the idea of creating a market for homemade food was something he always had in his mind, but needed the right timing to materialize.
A 45-year-old father, Ivers is from Thornhill, Ontario. but has lived in New York for 13 years. He says he is bothered by the polarization of our society, divided into different labels and categories.
Despite all the differences that separate one person from another, this father of two believes that the world has something special and powerful that can unite everyone: food.
“Food is perhaps the one thing that has the power to bring people of all different cultures and ethnicities together around a table,” Ivers said. “Everyone loves a meal of someone else’s culture and background, and it doesn’t matter if you’re Republican or Democrat, black or white, rich or poor.”
The pivotal moment that led to the first discussions on the platform happened in New York, when Ivers came across this New York Times article. It was a profile of a Toronto Blue Jays star, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and his grandmother, Alvino, who cooked traditional Dominican dishes for the whole team and their opponents.
Eating his comfort food has become a popular tradition among other players, especially those from the Dominican Republic.
“When I read this article, I called Michael and said, ‘Michael, there’s something here.'”
Toronto’s cultural diversity is one of the reasons the founders of Cookin chose the city for the launch of their platform, offering a wide range of cuisines prepared by cooks from different backgrounds.
Like other delivery apps, Cookin connects hungry customers with local cooks selling homemade meals on select days around Toronto.
When the order is placed, the app sends a driver to pick up the order from the cook’s address and deliver it to a customer. Meals can be pre-ordered or ordered for the day.
“When cooking on Cookin, you are your own boss, focusing on the cooking and deciding how often you decide,” Ivers noted. “The power is in the hands of the individual.”
If someone doesn’t have a kitchen big enough to cook meals for sale, Cookin offers a certified and inspected commercial kitchen located in the York Mills neighborhood of Toronto.
Carolyn Tanner Cohen, who helps cooks settle into the platform, says newly joined chefs are very happy to be part of Cookin and have the autonomy to create their own menu because they “really like to be creators of food”. She says they don’t want to worry about marketing, pricing, creating a website or how to promote themselves on social media. Cookin does all of this for them, taking only 15% of their food income.
When Ivers and Baruch offered Cohen to join the platform, she said it was like her “dream came true” because she always wanted to eat homemade food. But like many Torontonians, she doesn’t have the time or inclination to cook it every day.
Comparing restaurant food with homemade food, Cohen says it’s completely different from what people want to eat at home.
“It’s not so much the food when I go to a restaurant; it’s more about the experience of going out and being served and not having to wash the dishes. In terms of regular food consumption, I want to eat home-cooked meals. And the only person I know who will cook me homemade food is me,” she added.
By allowing local chefs to cook and sell their food from home, Cookin is challenging current legislation that restricts home food businesses in Canada.
Currently, it is considered illegal to cook and sell food from home, with some exceptions depending on the province.
As of January 4, 2021, the Ontario government allows the home cooking and sale of “low risk” foods that do not require refrigeration, such as baked goods, jams, chocolate, granola, etc This new law was created to support home-based businesses during COVID shutdowns. Companies that sell these foods do not need a food handler’s license.
Although no law allows people to sell other meals from home, Cookin takes several steps to ensure that their food is prepared safely.
Before joining the platform, all cooks must obtain a valid food handler certificate and pass a virtual kitchen inspection, in accordance with the latest health and safety protocols.
On top of that, cooks will undergo random inspections to ensure they are following protocols regularly. Inspections are conducted by the Cooks Success Service, recorded and stored for future reference.
“Laws have never considered the changing environment around us; they never entertained the idea that we as a society need to level the playing field for talented culinary creators who want to reinvent themselves,” the Cookin co-founder said.
He added that they are transparent about Cookin’s operations and proactively inform the government of their intentions.
Everyone is welcome to join the platform, whether they are professional chefs or cooks who have just started to pave their culinary careers.
Interested food makers just have to come up with a menu, and Cookin will help narrow it down to what the “Toronto community wants to eat,” Cohen said.
“I just had a conversation with a chef who graduated from culinary school, who had never worked in a restaurant before and who did a little private cooking here and there over the summer,” Cohen recalls. . “And I was like, ‘I’m here to hold your hand all the time. Let’s build a place together. Don’t worry about filling out the forms. Let’s talk about it, and we’ll help you get started.'”
“So I say to aspiring cooks: let’s start your business.”