When people travel, they often do it in a bubble of airport-hotel-well reviewed restaurant-hotel-airport. Travelers visit foreign countries without talking or eating with any of the locals there.
One app, Eatwith, is looking to change that.
Offering 5,000 in-home culinary experiences in 130 countries all over the world, with some 20,000 hosts and 150,000 guests, Eatwith might be the only way you’ll ever get to eating in a Michelin star chef’s home.
Millennials do everything socially, from ride-sharing with apps like Uber and Lyft, to home-sharing with apps like AirBnB and Couchsurfing. Why not meal-sharing?
It all started when Eatwith CEO Jean Michel Petit, a Tunisian Jew, was invited to a local Peruvian family’s dinner table while traveling. He decided immersive, social dining experiences were the new gastronomic future.
“Tonight, we are feasting and enjoying, just like so many other people are doing all over the world,” he said, opening an NYC dining experience for members of the press. The ten course meal took place in the Williamsburg home of Chef Ai. The dishes were elaborate, from sesame tofu with homemade ponzu to Michelin star quality striped bass. Ai means Japanese for love, and you can tell that while puttering around in her cozily decorated home, within her tiny kitchen, there is a genuine love and respect for the food and the art of cooking itself.
“This is…god,” a fellow diner said, momentarily lost for words while trying the savory pudding with salmon roe. There was nary a lobster or shellfish to be found at dinner, because Petit keeps kosher and Eatwith caters to its customers with food allergies and dietary restrictions.
“There’s a waiting list of 5,000 hosts,” Liat Cohen, private events manager at Eatwith, said. Eatwith is a family affair for Cohen. Her own mother is getting in on the kitchen, offering a kosher-by-request Friday night dinner on the app. The process for getting approved as a host on Eatwith can be difficult, with a Community Manager tasked with the joyous job of tasting every potential chef’s offerings. After meals, chef’s ratings are scrutinized. Any review that isn’t five stars is investigated.
So how does the savvy social traveler nourish themselves in a foreign country? With Eatwith, its at the table of a trained chef, with wine flowing, celebrating authentic cuisine and satisfying a curiosity about how other people live and eat.
Shira Feder is at email@example.com and @shirafeder