Susan Behrends Valenzuela
As an avid foodie and a college student missing the luxury of home-cooked meals, I had to give WoodSpoon a try. This food delivery app sets itself apart by providing the satisfaction of a home-cooked meal, unlike Grubhub and DoorDash.
Founded in 2019, WoodSpoon lets customers order food for delivery from home chefs in their neighborhood. The app, filtering by cuisine and geographic location, provides a similar experience to traditional food delivery services — except that customers are ordering from a set of personalized menus created by home chefs in their neighborhood.
After browsing home chefs in Chelsea, I decided to order Puerto Rican food from Mia Cocina’s by María Bído. According to WoodSpoon, Bído is a highly rated chef who acquired a taste for cooking at the age of six from her grandmother. I had never tried Puerto Rican food before, so I ordered three of Bído’s most popular dishes, according to the app: empanadas de pollo, pollo guisao and quéso blanco fríto — chicken empanadas, stewed chicken with tomato sauce, and rice and fried green plantains and fried pieces of white cheese with guava sauce, respictively.
Similar to other menus on the app, Bído’s dishes included a description and an ingredients list that’s as specific as the back of nutrition labels, so I knew exactly what I was ordering. Unlike traditional delivery apps, most WoodSpoon orders require you to order at least one day in advance. Bído’s prices range from $2.50 for smaller bites, such as individual empanadas, to $18 for larger dishes, such as arroz con pollo. WoodSpoon’s overall prices vary between $5 and $15, which I found reasonable compared to other food delivery apps.
I can attest that WoodSpoon chefs serve exceptional food. The night after I placed my order with Bído, I received my food from a courier within my selected delivery window. The food was nicely packaged and still warm. I devoured the food upon arrival. All of Bído’s dishes were incredible and thoroughly impressed me. It was clear that the food was cooked with passion and love.
Bído began her journey as a part-time WoodSpoon chef at an event in the Lower East Side in August. Aside from WoodSpoon, she hosts cooking workshops, serves as a personal chef, caters food and sells frozen food products.
“I learned about WoodSpoon while attending an open house at a shared kitchen on the Lower East Side in August,” Bído said. “At this event, I was able to speak with chefs who were already selling via the app and find out about their experiences.”
WoodSpoon has a vetting process for potential home chefs.
“They scheduled my food audition and this is now my third week operating as a WoodSpoon chef,” Bído said.
In three weeks, Bído has experienced great success. Thirty-five customers gave her food a 5-star review and raved about the quality of her food. Bído appreciates the feedback from her customers because they motivate her to continue sharing her passion for cooking.
While Bído has already gained a steady base of loyal customers on the app, she is hoping to gain more customers with time.
“Right now I’d say I’m averaging three orders a day,” Bído said. “I am hoping that these numbers increase as the word spreads.”
Kim Hafner, an NYU alum from the School of Professional Studies Continuing Education program, is a former sous chef and owner of Burnt Toast Kitchen NYC. She serves exclusively plant-based dishes to her WoodSpoon customers and 36 people gave her food a 5-star rating.
“I love bringing my global plant-based food to NYC diners,” Hafner wrote in an email. “I have the opportunity to showcase my cooking and test things out as if I were in a restaurant.”
WoodSpoon has proven reliable for home cooks despite the extreme changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID forced me to shift from a model where I went into people’s homes to cook and had in-person classes to meal prep, delivery and virtual classes,” Hafner wrote. “Delivery service platforms and packaging are super expensive, so WoodSpoon has helped me reach a wider audience and advertise in ways that would have taken me longer than if I had done it on my own.”
Contact Lucy McHugh at [email protected]