Jeff Chen has a sharp pitch for his new startup Taste: “We’ve created Instagram for good food.”
In other words, just as Instagram made it easy for regular smartphone users to look like talented photographers, the taste makes it easy for customers to prepare impressive meals at home.
That’s because the real preparation is being done by fine dining restaurants – the chain told me that there are currently 16 Michelin starred and Michelin-rated restaurants on stage – whose food doesn’t translate easily to the delivery or takeout experience. Taste offers “dinner kits”, which Chen said are neither standard takeouts (where everything is fully prepared, but don’t necessarily travel well) or a regular meal kit (where ” Everything is different and raw “).
Instead, he suggested that the tasting dinner kit is “this inside thing” where the food is mostly, but not completely, pre-prepared, allowing customers to “gather heat and very fast.”
For example, when I tried Taste last week, my girlfriend and I got a three-course meal from Lexus and her “restaurant in the restaurant” The Gray. The (delicious) course and a couple of sides had to be heated in the oven or microwave for five, 10 or 20 minutes, but no real preparation or cooking was required – the real work was cleaning up later.
Even the packaging was impressive (if a bit heavy), with a large, fancy box for each kit, and then separate packages for each course, as well as a separate package for spices. There are optional wine pairings, and some restaurants will also offer plating instructions for food and a Spotify playlist.
Taste – which is part of the Winter 2021 batch of startups at Y Combinator – is currently in New York City-only, where it works with restaurants including Dirt Candy, Meadowsweet and Muscat Room. As you might expect, these kits cost more than your standard dinner delivery. Many of them are in the $ 60-to-$ 100 per person range, although there are diners below $ 40, as well as a la carte options.
Chen (who sold his last startup JoyDride to Google) said that he and his co-founder Daryl Sew are excited to help New York City chefs recreate their offerings for delivery and help with the epidemic season.
“One very important thing we do is pre-order and batching for restaurants,” he said. “When a restaurant operates with taste, all orders arrive at the restaurant two days in advance, and we pick it up at the designated time, which helps greatly with the capacity lift.”
And while the taste may seem particularly appealing now, when indoor fine dining options are either illegal, unsafe or social disturbances and wearing masks, the chain anticipates healthy demand even after the epidemic. Finally, he suggested that before COVID-19, there were many people – busy parents, for example, or people who work long hours – who felt that they could not take advantage of these restaurants as much as They wanted to, or at all.
“Everything is transferring to the house,” he said. “Movies are shifting into home with Netflix, workouts with peloton and tonal in the house, and now we’re going to transfer the good experiences of eating at home.”