WoodSpoon, the New York City-based company that connects home chefs with hungry diners, is launching a new catering service. The company is framing the new service as a way for companies to lure work from home employees back to the office with home-cooked meals.
“It has been hard for a lot of companies to get their employees back to work,” said Oren Saar, co-founder and CEO of WoodSpoon. “We found early on that we have this unique capability to offer something special and help companies bring employees back to the office.”
Unlike a restaurant, WoodSpoon does not have a set menu, which allows catering customers to choose exactly what they want. For choice-paralyzed customers, Saar said the company is on-hand to help them craft a menu. WoodSpoon delivers its catering orders and said staff is on-hand to help companies set up an event.
In some cases, he said, companies have asked the home chefs to record a video or come into the office to explain their food and its origins. “Chefs love to present their food. They love to showcase their work. They are very thrilled about this opportunity,” said Saar.
The catering service can be a boon for chefs, who benefit from both the business and the exposure. If an employee likes what they’re eating, they know who cooked it and where to find more of it.
Saar, an Israeli immigrant, said the idea to create a marketplace for home cooking came to him after struggling to find the kind of food “that makes me feel like I’m home when I eat it.” When a friend-of-a-friend connected him with an authentic Israeli chef, he realized that there might be others looking for that kind of service, or still more who went to experience an authentic meal.
New Yorkers “are constantly looking for the most unique food experience,” he continued. WoodSpoon makes it a lot easier to track that down. Despite that, American cuisine is the most popular line on the marketplace, followed by Middle Eastern and Italian.
Customers can choose the chef they want to cater, pending availability, or the company can pair them with a chef that meets their needs. Saar said the company prioritizes chefs based on cuisine type, marketplace rating and distance.
While many companies are looking to bring employees back to the office, the spread of new variants threatens the trend. Saar described the catering service as a “partnership,” and said WoodSpoon has helped companies feed employees at home through gift cards, marketplace credit
The new catering service is a formalization of what WoodSpoon was already doing on an ad hoc basis. The new, formal program launched in New York only so far.
Saar said he expects the catering service to be a significant revenue stream for the company, but that WoodSpoon would remain focused on its B2C business. He estimated that over time, the catering line would account for 15 to 25 percent of the company’s business.