Photo: Pork Farro Bowl by SideChef.
Cooking at home is stressful enough without realizing you forgot the crucial ingredient minutes before your dinner guest arrives. Recipe app SideChef wants to prevent that regrettable moment through its new partnership with Chef’d, an online meal store and ingredient delivery service.
“Getting more convenience to people at the click of a button has always been a really big goal for us,” says Kevin Yu, CEO of SideChef. “Overall, SideChef’s mission has really been to make it so anyone can cook.” The app is versatile enough for a culinary amateur or for an experienced cook looking to experiment with new dishes.
Lack of education is one of the reasons home cooking fails; to remedy that, SideChef provides over 3,000 recipes with detailed instructions, step-by-step photos, voice commands, timers, and how-to videos. Another challenge is gathering all the ingredients together, in their freshest forms, in the right amounts, and as conveniently as possible; that’s where Chef’d comes in.
With current grocery delivery apps, you order each item separately (an incredibly time-consuming task). You’ll also likely end up with too much food that will spoil if you don’t cook meals that use those same ingredients. The collaboration between SideChef and Chef’d means one click supplies you with every item you need to make one meal. There are no excess mystery herbs wilting in your fridge for weeks after dinner has been served. SideChef and Chef’d don’t require subscriptions, either, eliminating costs for a service you may or may not use frequently enough to be valuable. These are important considerations for those who cook sporadically or only on special occasions.
Two hundred recipes are currently available for delivery in major metropolitan areas as a result of the partnership. During this, the first phase of the collaboration, Chef’d brought its own recipes to the SideChef platform. The next phase will involve ensuring ingredients for every recipe on SideChef can be purchased and delivered through Chef’d.
Yu, whose favorite dishes are those that involve soba noodles, garlic shrimp, and black beans, says that the available repertoire of meals is varied enough that eaters won’t find themselves agonizing over restrictive menus or eating repetitive meals. Perusing the innovative offerings (Chicken Tortilla Soup with Guacamole Wontons, New York Strip with Sriracha Chimichurri and Sweet Potato Hash, or Shrimp and Asparagus with Parmesan Grits, anyone?) taste bud boredom seems unlikely.
SideChef was founded in 2014, born out of Yu’s failed attempt at making Valentine’s Day dinner for his then-girlfriend. Upon reflection, he realized the disastrous three-course meal could have been salvaged with a few well-timed pointers. SideChef is the app he needed back then: a source of recipe discovery, yes, but more importantly, a culinary GPS to guide him through the process of preparing a meal.
One thing Yu wasn’t wrong about on that fated V-day evening is that cooking is a great way to impress a mate. Even if you don’t have a dinner partner, cooking at home for yourself is beneficial for so many reasons. It’s less expensive than eating out. Once you know what you’re doing, it can be a relaxing activity (keep trying, you’ll get there). Cooking at home also allows you to tailor your meals to your dietary goals (more protein!) or to accommodate allergy restrictions (no gluten!).
Now that you don’t even have to shop for ingredients, there’s really no excuse for not cooking at home more often. Well, okay, just one excuse: “We haven’t quite figured out the washing-the-dishes part,” Yu says. “We’re still working on that.”