Call it uberization, the sharing economy or collaborative consumption, the idea that people may have something others want and can rent or sell a portion of it frictionlessly through online marketplaces has changed the game for industries ranging from hospitality to transportation.
Food and cooking is no different. Uber Eats, virtual kitchens and the fast emergence of home cooking platforms in the wake of the passage of AB-626 has shown us food system business models are ripe for reinvention through the power of peer to peer.
But what about home kitchens? More specifically, what if we could simply rent a neighbor’s kitchen – built in appliances, blenders, countertops and everything else – by the hour?
While many of us have an oven, cookware and all the cooking gadgets needed to whip up a tasty meal, others are forced to eat out, have food delivered or impose on a friend either because they are kitchen-less or just don’t have the right set up to cook the big holiday meal or entertain in the way they would like.
What got me thinking this could happen is the recent news that by-the-minute hotel stay app Recharge has moved into the home market. If you’re not familiar with Recharge, they are known for offering access to hotel rooms on a by-the-minute basis so people can nap, shower or…whatever. It works with 50 hotels and now the company says they’ve signed up over one thousand homes for the platform.
With homes available by the hour, I have to think kitchens will be a central attraction for many. Whether it’s hosting a dinner party, baking cookies for the holidays or cooking a week’s worth of home meals for the family, there are all sorts of use cases where hourly access to a kitchen just makes sense.
In a way, hourly access to home kitchens is an extension of what we’re already seeing in the maker market, where concepts like that of Tinker Kitchen have emerged for people who want to get into a fully equipped kitchen to cook a souffle or try out a new cooking appliance.
“We are aimed at people who usually wouldn’t step into a commercial kitchen,” Tinker Kitchen creator Dan Mills told the Spoon last August. “It’s food for personal enrichment,” he said.
Enrichment makes sense for the aspirational and hobbyist chefs among us, but there are probably lots others who just have an immediate need to make some food or host a party. A platform for renting a home with a nice kitchen would meet that kind of need quite nicely.
So will a sharing economy for the home kitchen take off? It’s too soon to say for sure, but my guess is yes. And the best part is? You can always book an extra hour to take a well-deserved nap on someone else’s bed when you’re done with that culinary masterpiece.