It’s no secret that I am a lover of marketplace businesses and have been for some time. I’ve long believed in the power of the web to uniquely aggregate disparate supply & demand into a frictionless, transaction-oriented platform. It’s something we think about a lot at Spark and we’ve put our money where our mouth is, with investments in Skillshare, 1st Dibs, Work Market, Adap.tv and others capitalizing on this trend across different markets in distinctive ways.
So I couldn’t be happier to announce today Spark Capital’s investment in Kitchensurfing — the world’s marketplace for chefs. When Chris Muscarella first told me he was launching Kitchensurfing, I was immediately smitten. In addition to being an incredibly talented product-led internet entrepreneur, Chris, too, is a lover of all things food and has been intimately involved in building one of my favorite restaurants: Rucola in Broooklyn.
Chris has created a beautiful product with two talented German cofounders: Borahm Cho and Lars Kluge. Adding my dear friend Ben Leventhal to the mix as President was the icing on the cake. Having previously co-founded Eater.com, Ben is one of the foremost editorial minds and community builders in the food world.
On its face, Kitchensurfing is very simple — it’s a place for folks to find chefs of all stripes to come cook for them, and oftentimes their guests, in the comfort of their own home. But Kitchensurfing is actually doing something more profound. They are unbundling the idea of the restaurant and putting it together in an entirely new way.
One of the things you learn very quickly in the restaurant business is how tough it is to be a chef. While the celebrity chefs get all the attention today, aside from them and the country’s leading executive chefs, most chefs work very hard for very little money. Save for opening their own restaurant, which does not always come naturally to a creative chef, there is little room for upward mobility.
Kitchensurfing opens up opportunities for chefs to do more of what they love (cooking) and make more money in the process. Whether they are a professional or an amateur, whether they do it part time or full time, Kitchensurfing is a platform that enables chefs to be chefs and make money doing it.
From the consumer point of view, dining out is probably the biggest piece of discretionary spend. What if ‘dining in’ could take a piece of that immense pie with a different but comparable experience? Could it even grow that pie in the process? The home chef has never been a true alternative to a restaurant meal, certainly not on an on-demand, a la carte basis. But now it is.
All great in theory, but I had to try it for myself to fully believe it. I had the Lucullan team do my first Kitchensurfing dinner, and it was terrific. So far I’ve used Kitchensurfing at my home or at friends’ homes at least half a dozen times, and I am hooked. In addition to being able to try all different kinds of foods, having a talented, interesting person in your home is actually a treat in it of itself. There is a sense of community, of being part of the process of food, that is simply hard to beat. So much so that I recently had Hagar from Kitchensurfing cook our Moroccan inspired Passover seder!
Kitchensurfing is currently available in New York, Boston and Berlin—planting a domestic and international flag from day one. Chicago and Washington D.C. are coming imminently. There are now thousands of cooks on the platform, and the business has tripled in size since the end of last year. Kitchensurfing is on a tear, and I’m excited to be a part of it.
Look out for Kitchensurfing in a city near you soon. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
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