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8 Startups Go Digital to Entice NYC Epicureans


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Just like the myriad brick and mortar restaurants popping up everyday, the city’s digital landscape is filling up with food-related startups, too.

 

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You can’t walk more than a few blocks in New York City without seeing a restaurant. Sometimes the decision of where to get your next meal can be a little overwhelming. It doesn’t stop there. It’s not just where to go, but also what to get – everyone’s looking for healthy options today, but unfortunately, one doesn’t always know what to order.

Keeping the healthy eater company is the adventurous foodie, willing to try anything anywhere and always on the look out for the next culinary adventure. Communal dining is pretty big, too, with people opening up their homes and kitchens to strangers, all in the name of a great evening and an out-of-the-ordinary dining experience. But there are also times when you want to have guests over but don’t want to slave away in the kitchen. Which is where caterers come in.

New York’s entrepreneurs having being paying attention to all of this and coming up with ideas that cater to the various foodie subsets. The list keeps growing but for now, here are some of the city’s top foodie startups in no particular order –

1)   Plated – Plated does your grocery shopping for you. The service lets you choose from weekly designed menus and order a minimum of four plates for the week. Once you’ve made your choices, the ingredients and recipe are shipped to you. And the ingredients are so fresh, they’ll last the entire week, anywhere in the Northeast and Midwest. Everything is local; the meals are balanced to cover all the basic food groups; and an entrée is between 600-800 calories.

While there are occasional dairy and gluten free meals, vegetarian courses are still in the works. As far as pricing goes, becoming a member lets you order 4 plates at $12/plate or 6 or more plates at $10/plate. Non-members play $15/plate for the former and $14/plate for the latter. Past recipes include BBQ Chicken Burgers, Asian Beef Kebabs and Shrimp and Grits.

2)   EatWith – Bringing communal dining to New York is EatWith. This Israel-based startup began when its co-founder, Guy Michlin, while holidaying on Crete, had a fantastic dining experience with a Greek family he met through a friend. The evening made him realize that locals are what make a journey more enriching and so decided to help connect travellers with locals. And what better medium to use than food?

You can sign up to be a host, decide the menu and the price per head. On average, a meal costs less than $40 and the EatWith team provides consulting support while planning.

The idea has been called the Airbnb for the restaurant industry by TIME magazine and has a presence in 11 countries around the world, including Spain, Israel and Brazil.  EatWith NYC just launched the weekend of August 2-5, with eight different events across the city. (Ok, so they’re not a native NY app, but if you can make it here….)

3)   Kitchensurfing – Kitchensurfing is where you go when you want to impress and need a professional’s help. The service lets you fill in your requirements, shows you a list of chefs and menus that fit the bill, lets you work with your chosen chef to customize the menu if needed and book your chef. Their website states – “Our chef shops, shows up at your house, cooks, serves and cleans. 
You sit back and enjoy the restaurant in your kitchen.”

The price covers the chef’s hourly charges, ingredients, right down to salt and pepper, gratuity and travel. The information a customer can provide includes anything from asking for alcohol pairing suggestions, to food allergies and any special dietary needs. The website also has a guide to help customers know what meals usually cost. Chefs can use the site to create profiles and offer their service, too.

The service is available in several cities, with Chicago being the latest. But not to worry: many chefs are willing to travel if a customer lives outside a Kitchensurfing city.

Of course, this being NYC where one always has choices, similar to kitchensurfing is GetAChef.

4)   Blue Apron – A grocery delivery concept with a bit of a twist, Blue Apron lets you sign up for one of two available plans (the poultry, meat or fish plan or the vegetarian) and then sends you the ingredients for three meals a week at $9.99 per person per meal.

“We want our customers to get fresher food than they can get at the supermarket, and also for lower prices.  We have a team of food-sourcing experts who navigate the markets each week, looking for the best seasonal deals and then pass those savings along to customers.  At $9.99 per person per meal, it’s affordable enough that you can cook with us every single week if you want to,” said CEO Matt Salzberg.

Like other services, the ingredients are fresh and last for the week they are shipped in; the meals are about 500-700 calories each; and the meals can usually be prepared in less than 35 minutes.

Free delivery is available in close to 25 states, from Wednesday to Saturday. Blue Apron also has a partnership with City Harvest, to whom customers can donate any extra food they might have.

5)   Underground Eats – This one is for the adventurers. The Underground Eats team finds the most exciting and unique dining experience in New York and offers it to their members. “Picture yourself enjoying a ten-course tasting in a private garden, a top-secret dinner in an abandoned Victorian mansion, or a mind-blowing meal prepared by a Michelin-starred chef in your own home” their website says enticingly.
Aspiring members have to request admission. The website also hosts its own events and helps members to throw a great party, too.

6)   CaterCow – CaterCow is there to fulfill all your catering needs, online. By partnering with local restaurants, caterers, vendors and foodcarts, the website allows you to  search from a wide variety of options, shows you everything that fits the description that you input, offers comparative prices and lets you finalize your order online. The company takes 11% of each order’s value, which is automatically split between the customer and the caterer. The service is available in nine cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Portland and Chicago.

7)   BrunchCritic – “Brunch” and “weekends” are now synonymous with each other thanks to the deluge of options available in the city. Instead of going crazy trying to find the perfect Sunday brunch, head to BrunchCritic.com. You can search by neighborhood and mood, ask the community for recommendations or trust their Brunch of the Week pick. The website also hosts events like Buns n’ Biscuits, combining a workout with brunch. Under the “Our Faves” tab you will find the best places for Bloody Marys, pancakes, grits and other brunch staples.

8)   HealthyOut – This is a combination of take out and healthy food. The website has partnered with restaurants to have healthy meals delivered to your home or workplace. After signing in, a user shares his/her goals and tastes, like whether he/she wants a high protein diet, a vegetarian one or a heart-healthy one, from a variety of options. The HealthyOut team then plans a week’s worth of meals, from Monday to Friday, allowing the user to change any meal that he/she does not find appealing for one that is more appetizing. The company charges $26/month for the planning and delivery services, while the actual cost of the meal is paid for separately by the user.

Eat With ; Hummus Brunch with Naama Shefi & Noam Bonnie ; Photo By: Eilon Paz

Photo Credit: Eilon Paz
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About the author: Kamakshi Ayyar

Kamakshi Ayyar is a freelance journalist based in New York. She studied law at Mumbai University, India and received her Master’s in Journalism from Columbia University. She has written for Business India, Roosevelt Island’s Main Street Wire and The Villager.

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