“There is no way you can get the same quality evening as in a restaurant,” says Lionel Ng. But still, Ng loves inviting friends to his house and has turned to an on-demand chef service to cook for him in his home. “Like most Singaporeans, my kitchen and house are not extremely large, but there is still enough space for a chef to work.”
Ng, a media consultant in Singapore, is part of the growing dining-in crowd, a trend that is fast gaining popularity in cities around the world such as San Francisco, New York and Paris. “I used to go to restaurants with my friends but now I use the chefs from Clubvivre.com. I still go out, but actually getting the chefs to come to my house is much better value for my money,” says Ng.
On-demand chef services offer extensive menus for customers to choose from. It works like this: Browse the website, find a chef and book a meal directly from the service. At the appointed time, the chef will come to your home with the ingredients, cook your meals and clean up before leaving.
Tech Enters The Food Space
Technology is changing the way we shop – faster than we realise. We already expect goods or services to be found instantly and booked in a few clicks either from our computer or mobile phone or even while in a taxi.
In a culture where everything has to be instant, curated marketplaces guide and assist us with our daily needs. Platforms matching customers with a relevant service has already become the norm. AirBnB, Uber and the likes have educated the market on the benefits, advantages and security of getting personalised services online or through an app. The marketplace model entering the food world is an inevitable result.
How It Works
Getting a sophisticated dinner is easier than it seems. “We provide a full restaurant experience with a chef at your house,” says Andries de Vos, Chief Executive Officer of the Singapore-based Clubvivre.com.
Calling itself an online marketplace, Clubvivre.com offers customers more than 300 menus to choose from according to their budget and taste. Some menus include wait staff and appropriate tableware. The service is relatively new in Singapore but Clubvivre.com says it has served more than 20,000 locals and expatriates.
Chefs Love It
One might expect that the dining-in trend is a hassle for the chef, but they actually love it. Besides earning additional income from freelancing, chefs also create an online brand with their profile, menus and prices. Chefs can also see what other chefs are offering and test new ideas to see what gets popular. More importantly chefs finally get to interact with customers.
“Going to people’s houses to cook is a beautiful and intimate experience for them as well as for me,” says Jean-Philippe Patruno, a well-established executive chef in Singapore. Chefs can actually fulfil their culinary dreams and be creative, while having direct contact with the people who taste their creations.
But who are these chefs? “We work with acclaimed restaurant chefs as well as professional private chefs,” says Maria Kuvshinova, co-founder of Clubvivre.com. “Many Clubvivre chefs work in a restaurant, while doing events with us to explore their creativity and earn some extra money. Other chefs are independent and want to broaden their reach with us.”
Casual or Fancy?
The dining-in trend started with birthday parties and special occasions, which people increasingly want to celebrate with family and friends in a more comfortable setting at home. However, the trend is widening out. More and more chefs are cooking regularly for casual gatherings of friends throughout the week. It is very common for groups of friends to meet on a regular basis for dinner, but instead of going to a restaurant they are ordering a chef to come to them.
“Our most popular bookings are for BBQs, birthday parties and friends who want to get together,” says de Vos. Inviting a chef to cook at home or in an office is no longer an alien concept, but an affordable experience that is fast gaining momentum around the world.
“I heard about it from a friend. After I tried it, I was super amazed by the whole set up. It’s super convenient when I have my friends over – and it doesn’t break the bank,” says Ng, adding that he gets what he pays for in the end. Instead of paying for overpriced wine in a restaurant, Ng says he prefers to spend his money on a more personal dining experience.
While dining in continues in Singapore and elsewhere in the world, consumers are not just feeding off a trend. Online marketplaces are truly transforming the way we choose our food, giving it a more personalised touch.