For amateur cooks who want to test the water before opening their first restaurant, Feastly is a platform that allows them to communicate with food-enthusiast strangers and showcase their talent. Feastly also benefits diners who want to seek something other than the typical restaurant experience.
The Feastly platform — which has been operating for about a year — was first started in Washington DC and now also covers New York and the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville. All of the meals are homemade, cooked and served at the same location.
“People today want to know who’s making their food and where their food comes from,” said Noah Karesh, founder of Feastly. “We want to cater to that. People who use our platform are looking for specific things in food, not just in terms of ethnicity but also in terms of ingredients.”
The cooks decide the type of food they want to share, the price it costs, the space and time to host the dinner, and the number of people that will join them. Because Feastly does not require the cooks to have professional cooking background, both amateur cooks and restaurant chefs can join. The dining options range from ice cream tastings to elaborate 10-course dinners. There are also brunches, casual movie nights and a monthly class on chocolate making.
Karesh came up with the idea after a trip to Guatemala roughly one and a half years ago. In Guatemala, Karesh and his girlfriend had trouble finding real Guatemalan food instead of the typical tourist offerings. Two hours into their search at even local markets, they were about to give up when they ran into a local who took them to his house for dinner. The meal, made by the local’s mother, was such a memorable experience to Karesh that made him question why it was so hard to find authentic, home cooked meals these days. Hence, Feastly was created as a platform for anyone interested in connecting over homemade food and homemade atmosphere.
“We at Feastly consider food not as a tool for nourishment but as a way to sustain relationship,” Karesh said.
Feastly provides a platform to work out the logistics of a meal: location, date, messaging, pricing and description of the food. Regarding regulations, everyone who signs up as a cook on Feastly is vetted. Considering how difficult it is to make a restaurant, Feastly wants to provide a tool for beginners to “monetize their [cooking] passion and build their brand, with an added benefit of community.” The diners, once registered and approved by Feastly, can browse through a list of available meals in their area and reserve seats.
Feastly is still in private beta state, but Karesh estimated that the current user base is over ten thousand across the country, with many international accounts. The goal is to expand the service worldwide to allow travellers to experience homemade meals and understand cultures around the world.
Mai Truong is the food editor. Contact her at [email protected]