Startups

NYC-based personal chef tech platform WoodSpoon is expanding to Philadelphia

The company recently raised a $14 million Series A, and has plans to expand across the US after the pandemic boosted demand for at-home food delivery.

A WoodSpoon delivery.

(Courtesy photo)

A three-year-old NYC company specializing in home cooked food delivery is expanding to Philadelphia this month, with plans to enter more US markets this year.

Oren Saar, cofounder and CEO of WoodSpoon, launched the company with Merav Kalish Rozengarten while getting his MBA at MIT. He often cooked Israeli food for himself and his roommate, but wondered if there was a way he could order home-cooked food for himself the way he could order from restaurants off Uber Eats or Doordash. Together with Rozengarten, Saar began work on the platform, and they launched in March 2019.

“Together we shared the craving for food that brought us the feeling of home,” Saar said. “After thorough research, we realized that there is a real desire for authentic, homemade food on demand in a lot of communities. We built a solution both for home chefs, who were looking for a way to share their homemade food but did not know how to start a business, and also for food lovers.”

The service allows for chefs to prep food in their own homes and sell it to others in their city through a the WoodSpoon platform. The chefs, who are interviewed and vetted by the WoodSpoon team, are in control of their own menu and pricing. They have full “creative freedom,” Saar said. WoodSpoon’s platform handles the ordering logistics, payments, provides chefs sustainable packaging and drivers to complete the delivery. The chefs also undergo the comprehensive food safety training program in compliance with the Food and Drug Administration’s Good Manufacturing Practice requirements.

The pandemic expedited the company’s growth, Saar said, as the demand for at-home food delivery rose. It also gave people who had lost their jobs in the restaurant industry a way to make money through food while staying at home. In August 2021, the company raised a $14 million Series A, and began to look toward national expansion.

In January, the platform launched in New Jersey, and on Tuesday, it became available for Philadelphia customers. (As of this writing, the location icon at the top only names Brooklyn, but you can type in your address to see Philly chefs.) The company also recently announced it would begin catering services for companies to provide their employees home-cooked meal options.

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“Philadelphia is attractive to us for many reasons,” Saar said. “Like NYC, the city is full of diverse, talented cooks and there are tons of chefs and consumers who are looking for home-cooked meals that celebrate their cultures.”

WoodSpoon chefs are able to create their own webpage and community of followers, and switch up their menu items at any time. Many of the chefs on the platform are immigrants, the cofounder said, and have been able to strengthen a sense of community amid the pandemic through food.

“What started as an idea has grown into something that we’re seeing a huge demand for in just a few years — comforting, home-cooked meals that remind people of friends, family and loved ones,” Saar said.

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