Matt Landau
  • Founder, VRMB

Have You Tried "EatWith"?

Last week I visited Tarkan and Julia Tarkan and Julia in Istanbul, Turkey and WOW what a gigantic bustling historic crossroads of world history (if you haven't consider planning a visit -- Turkish Airlines is amazing and Julia and Tarkan's properties rock).

For dinner one evening my best friend Adam and I booked our maiden meal on Eat With, which is basically like a listing site for home-cooks. In short, home cook makes a menu for dinner at their house, guest pays platform, and both review each other after the meal.

We booked a young man named Ata and his su-chef Ahmed for a not-insignificant 80pp 8-course tasting menu and boy was it well worth it (photo attached). The guys welcomed us to their grandma's house (she passed away but they keep her cooking legacy alive with the dinners), served us original dishes each with great origin stories, and sat down afterwards to share some stories and opinions on what it's like to live in Turkey as young growth-minded professionals.

Ultimately, what made this such a fun night was what makes limited edition hospitality tick: small, local, specialized creators who set realistic expectations then exceed those expectations with small surprises. In our case, it was Adam's birthday and Ata brought out a mini cake with candles at the end. Memories!

A few thoughts still linger as I'm getting back into my routine...
  • Have you or your guests ever tried EatWith in your destination: https://www.eatwith.com/
  • Do you know any home cooks who might enjoy hosting visitors (and making cash)?
  • What are the safety hazards that home kitchens introduce?
  • What standards should be met?
  • How does EatWith impact local restaurants?
  • How does EatWith impact neighbors who share the building?
What other questions arise from a new cottage industry evolving before our eyes?
 

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I recall when you first mentioned this group years ago. Unfortunately there still is no such offering in our location. That said there are many caterers and some folks who relish the farm/sea/foraged-to-table meals. Wish me luck as I recommend to our community's local Facebook group EatWith as business opportunity to all.
 
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The Eatwith experience sets me on fire, the participatory element of experiencing culinary culture with a local resident onsite in the destination that you’re visiting sounds intimate and fun to the very max!! Matt Landau Matt Landau I’m so glad you had such a stellar standout Big 4-O Happy Birthday
celebration!!! 👍🥂🎂🎉

I’m going to share this idea with Myrna first, she’ll enjoy hearing that I learned about it from you. She’s incredibly humble but I’ve managed to slowly get her to admit that her Kallaloo is of a “standing room only” variety. The thought of people finding out about that and fungi and Johnny cakes and all sorts of other West Indian cuisine sounds like, well, an absolutely delicious idea.

It’s of course very helpful that Myrna happens to be the Deputy Commissioner of Licensing and Consumer Affairs, if there’s any red tape attached to doing eatwith in the Virgin Islands, she’d know what to do.

I think there would be any number of island residents who could do brilliantly with eatwith on St. John, including of course Shaibu who you already know.

Interestingly, local West Indian residential kitchens are notoriously small but there are plenty of idyllic other possibilities if this idea ever “gets cooking” in Love City. The very idea ironically has a “Love City Flavor” to it, probably because we really do have a very strong sense of island community. That is 100% beautiful and worth gold.

It was great that Myrna connected recent guests with a local fisherman, the group met him at 8:30AM and brought Caribbean lobster home to cook in the Tropical Blessings kitchen. I’m still smiling about that but I can’t write another word about eating since it’s making me hungrier by the minute!!
 
I recall when you first mentioned this group years ago. Unfortunately there still is no such offering in our location. That said there are many caterers and some folks who relish the farm/sea/foraged-to-table meals. Wish me luck as I recommend to our community's local Facebook group EatWith as business opportunity to all.
Update- good news, there were some nibbles from my post plus some interest from my favorite caterer in our area who has provided dinners for some of my guests. However, her catering business seems to be doing very well now.

BTW there are other apps/organizations that have developed along the way. And just as we are working to "lift up our businesses" to be more professional, there appears to be a similar need for this "Airbnb for foodies" service as well, especially as they compete with local restaurants - see Feastly

I love this description from the NYT's👆 2017 article: lifelong friendships weren’t the point. “It’s parachuting in to get a dose of varied social interaction,”
And I hope their review process has improved over the years: "my enthusiasm for this newfound social outlet waned. I received an email from EatWith asking me, “Who would you eat with again?” The rating system that’s a staple of transportation services, like Uber, now extends to leisure." The company's chief executive explained it is because "EatWith is kind of like Tinder for couples."

Another is OneTable, an organization that encourages millennials — of all backgrounds and religions — to host Sabbath dinners. From the article: “Millennials don’t like to gamble with social experiences,” said Ms. Kline [Exec Director], who is in her 40s. “The more they know what to expect, the more people will show up.”
¿A key to its success?...Hosts need how to impose some structure to the meal and the conversation. This aligns with our need to have structure within our series of conversations with our guests.

BUT-- be aware of your communities' laws- see CA: Homemade Food Operations Act (AB 626). The legislation limits home kitchens to $50,000 in sales a year, and 60 individual meals a week.

Imagine if your community did the same limiting effort on your STRs...oh wait!
 

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