“Almost five years ago nobody had a personal driver, and now we have Uber. Why can’t we do that with personal chefs?” That’s the question that prompted 18-year-old Abbie Krech to drop out of college and start Cheff; a web platform which connects professional chefs with individuals who can’t — or don’t want to — cook.
Time-pinched customers can head to the Cheff website (they eventually plan to build out an app), select a chef from its directory, and negotiate a price. Krech envisions a variety of use cases where chefs do everything from weekly meal prep for clients to catering larger-scale dinner parties. “We want to make this an everyday lifestyle choice,” said Krech.
Of course, the concept of personal chefs is nothing new. There are plenty of websites offering lists of local culinary professionals, ready to come and cook for you or your group. What distinguishes Cheff is its attempt to uber-ize personal chefs selection — that is, to make it affordable, convenient, and millennial-friendly. “Meal kits don’t do it all for you, and restaurants can be expensive and unhealthy,” said Krech. The startup is trying to hit the sweet spot right in the middle, capitalizing off of two trends we’ve seen in millennial dining habits: convenience and healthy eating.
Here’s where things start to get sticky. Chefs’ prices are negotiable, but their site lists one rate of $30-$50 per person (for 1-2 people) and $20-$40 per person (for 4+ people), which includes food. For a single meal. Even compared to food delivery, that’s on the pricey side. Cheff isn’t publicly disclosing their exact business model, but Krech stated that it would be a subscription, based on the volume of clients each chef has.
Of course, Cheff is in their initial stages, and there’s plenty of time for prices to come down. Plus, since the rates are negotiable, chefs might be amenable to some price haggling. But still — those numbers make the idea of hiring a private chef, which is already a semi-tough sell for millennials who are used to ordering super convenient delivery while bingeing Netflix, a tougher pill to swallow.
Cheff launched last week for friends and family and is aiming to be available to the Chicago public by the end of August. They’re planning to expand into San Francisco and New York City by the end of 2018, at which time Krech said they’ll start fundraising.
Yes, this scrappy startup — right now it’s just Krech, her co-founder, and two interns — will certainly run into a few roadblocks; their prices are high, and they’ll need to work to familiarize consumers with their concept, and get them comfortable with the idea of everyday personal chefs. Despite these obstacles, it’s still tempting to root for the 18-year-old girl who had an idea and just decided to make it happen. If they can get their prices down and get millennials onboard the whole everyday personal chef concept, they might have a shot.