If you’re anything like us, and the rest of the food-and-drink-loving internet, this year’s quarantine elucidated at least two things: the limitations of your cooking skills, and the design flaws of your kitchen. And now, seven months of sourdough starters and a windowsill full of perma-growing scallions later, you’re ready to enjoy the taste and comfort of a home cooked meal—without having to curse your cramped kitchen’s layout, or spend hours afterwards cleaning up.
Enter WoodSpoon—a new NYC-based food-tech company—to bridge the gap between what you’re willing to work for and what you desperately want.
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“We launched WoodSpoon in February, right before the Covid-19 pandemic arrived in New York,” says Youval Amit, WoodSpoon’s Head of Growth. “It was really strange timing, in a way, because chefs are the heart of WoodSpoon, and suddenly chefs, cooks, and other restaurant workers lost their jobs because of Covid. We were so grateful to be in the position to provide them with an alternative way to make a living while doing what we always set out to do: feed people really great, delicious food.”
An app connecting users with talented and trusted home chefs throughout the city and beyond, WoodSpoon is an on-demand homemade food delivery platform that allows home chefs to share their dishes with diners looking to eat healthier and less industrial while experiencing unique cuisines that seem to be disappearing as time evolves. The community-based, two-sided online platform allows users to order a variety of dishes from local cooks throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Hoboken, Jersey City, Long Island City (and soon in Queens and the Bronx). Imagine all the ease and accessibility of Seamless or DoorDash—but instead of restaurant food, you’re getting a cooked-with-love taste of someone else’s culture, dishes prepared with the sort of care you’d typically only expect from grandma—somebody else’s or your own.
Of course, at WoodSpoon, the grandmothers are as diverse as the dishes they’re offering. Currently available on WoodSpoon, for example, are dishes ranging from Challah Bread and Salmon Sushi Bowls to Shakshuka Baguettes and Chicken Quesadillas; Russian honey cake and Middle Eastern custard Mahalabi to Tunisian Fricassee and more. In all, WoodSpoon has offerings from over 120 home cooks, including Israel’s Bake-off winner Shay Golan, Xiomara and her husband Aiman Reyes, plant-based chef Rachel Hazen, Neapolitan culinary star Giuseppe Amato and Kevin Martinez, formerly of Jean Georges and Nobu.
“What we’re seeing is that we all miss that warm feeling of having a home-cooked meal—but, after quarantine, we’re also kind of tired of cooking,” says Amit. “What I love most about WoodSpoon is that our chefs provide home-cooked tastes of their own unique cultures, and for our eaters, it’s still really easy. We’ve been very blessed in that New Yorkers are extremely open to new cultures and tastes, and they’ve been excited to try all sorts of different things from our chefs. And the best thing, for our eaters, is that they can check out each chefs’ reviews before ordering, so they still know what to expect.”
Co-founded by Oren Saar and Merav Kalish Rozengarten, two Israeli transplants living in New York, WoodSpoon has served more than 3,500 diners to date—feeding people at a time when food options have been scarce around the city; granting local cooks and chefs an opportunity to make a living; and, perhaps most importantly, creating a sense of connection, through cherished family and cultural recipes, when we’ve all needed it most.
It is this last accomplishment that the WoodSpoon team is most proud of, as a team of immigrants who each bring their own unique food and drink traditions to the table at work and beyond. Browse the WoodSpoon website and you’ll see that, in this way, the WoodSpoon team has much in common with the local chefs who offer homemade food on their app. Behind every dish—from Scallop Ceviche to Nutella Babka Cake—there is a face for you to see and a story for you to read, of the person who’s cooking for you, and a list of all the ingredients that were used in whatever it is you may be eating.
“I talked with one of our eaters when the pandemic first started,” says Amit. “I asked her, ‘Why are you choosing WoodSpoon right now, over other food delivery apps?’ She said, ‘I love knowing that I’m buying this food from someone who is in their house, not leaving, and not taking the subway to get to work; that they’re the only person making it, and there’s not a team of people touching the food; that it’s probably the same food they’re making for their family. I just trust these people more than I trust a restaurant right now.’ That response really impressed me, because we are so dedicated to our eaters’ safety. We’re very diligent about the chefs we accept, and still each chef has to undergo a kitchen inspection, food approval testing, and anonymous audits of their food before being officially onboarded. We’re really proud of our vetting process.”
And they should be, as WoodSpoon eaters throughout the city (and beyond) are able to enjoy delicious, freshly cooked food that’s been prepared safely in the homes of some of the city’s most talented cooks and chefs. It’s impossible, even for Amit, to choose a favorite.
“[All the chefs on WoodSpoon] are my babies in a way,” says Amit. “There’s an Italian chef in Brooklyn who makes his grandma’s recipes from Napoli. They’re amazing. And then there’s Kevin Martinez in Manhattan, whose last gig was at Nobu, so he’s obviously just a super experienced chef that we’re so proud of. There’s just so many that I love. Personally, though, I’m Israeli, but my family came from Iran. There’s an Iranian chef on WoodSpoon, Sarah . . . her food just makes me cry.”
Connection. Culture. A taste of home—your own, or someone’s else. All the things we’ve been craving all year, suddenly available within the space of a few taps. An all-around taste of a better, closer, more grandma-friendly world. With WoodSpoon, finally, there’s even an app for that.
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