This Philly Startup is About To Become the Uber of Food

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As you can tell from my social media accounts, the driving force behind my passion for Philly is fueled by those who aspire to create different and eclectic foods and services to the local food scene. It’s because if this passion and genuine enthusiasm for “what’s next” that I’ve been fortunate enough to have been asked to sample and take part in some genuinely unique events, tasting menus, and food services throughout the very short life of this blog all while meeting some incredibly interesting people.

More and more of the services we rely on for our day-to-day lives are slowly being switched for more convenient and cost effective alternatives brought to us by web developers and techies alike. Within the past few years, Philly has embraced web-based food services such as Favor or Caviar to to expand our delivery options from the previously confining delivery areas of our zip code. Thanks to these food- savvy techies, foodies and bloggers across the city are able to sample some of the city’s best food from the comfort of their own home thanks to their artificially intelligent clusters of ones and zeros.The future is clearly, and conveniently, now.

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Things have never been easier for a food blogger. However, with this new version of “eating out” comes the expected shortcomings of higher prices for smaller portions and a dining experience that lacks the intimacy of knowing the person who made your food. It seems as if home cooked meals made by a single person who’s primary goal is taste instead of speed is taking the back seat to a lot of people who either don’t have the time or know-how to make dinner themselves (or at least people who think they don’t).

The internet has figured out the solution to connecting people and feeding them, but not simultaneously. The streamlined process of receiving a professionally made meal out of thin air is so seamless, that we often neglect to think of where- or who- our food is coming from. For those who believe that food is the best method of bringing people together, this could understandably make the social aspect of dining a bit lacking. It wasn’t until a local start up called LocalStove reached out to me and explained their new business model that I genuinely got excited for yet another food service to hit Philly.

LocalStove is a new Philly based startup that provides just what its name implies. It’s a website that connects the hungry people of Philly to local home cooks looking to feed them with their own homemade dishes at an affordable price. Unlike most web based food services who’ve recently opened up shop in the city, LocalStove gives profiles on their site to both their partnering cooks and the dishes they have available that day with in-depth descriptions of each dish. Along with the available dishes (with information such as its ingredients, conception, and origin), LocalStove gives the address and hours of the day’s cook for customers to go an pick them up at the cook’s location after they’ve paid for the meal ahead of time. This prior notice lets each cook know how much of their dish to make so as not waste ingredients. It’s because these meals are being made by a single person in their own kitchens that they’re made with great detail and bring a healthier, homier aspect to what we’re usually accustomed to in terms of pre-made dinners, not to mention the fact that it adds a much more personal and social aspect to dinner than just ordering it on an app.

Their menu changes daily as its posted according to which person is cooking for the day. This brings a level of variety that’s surprisingly pleasant for those like myself who are open to all foods and wouldn’t mind a little bit of a surprise. In fact, when LocalStove first asked if they could send me dinner, I happily agreed and told them to send me what they thought was an appropriate representation of their menu selection. Their response did not disappoint: Sous vide pulled pork precision cooked for 24 hours, cold smoked for two hours prior, and hot smoked for four hours after, that would give any carnivore the gastronomic equivalent of premature ejaculation.

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30-hour Sous vide pork with Asian dipping sauce (Hoisin and Sriracha) – Boston pork shoulder cold smoked for 2 hours, precision cooked in a Sous Vide for 24 hours, and then hot smoked for an additional 4 hours.

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Pork cooked breath-tender at such a low and precise temperature that it would otherwise be sold to you at three times the price for half of the portion at any restaurant. With the pork came a dipping condiment made of homemade chipotle sriracha barbecue sauce  as well as two sides of an Asian cabbage slaw and a salsa comprised of fresh corn, beans, and tomatoes. Considering how much food came with the dish (including the complimentary chips for the salsa), its pricing of ten bucks surprised me just as much as its taste.

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The Sous vide/smoked pork platter by local cook and LocalStove co-founder Steven Finn: 30-hour sous vide/smoked pork butt, Asian slaw, and bean & corn salsa (with pita chips)

Telling by the quality of this dish-as well as their daily menu selections on their site- attention to detail seems to be the M.O. for LocalStove’s cooks being that the demands of the usual dinner rush isn’t a factor in how quickly they need to make their food. Their cooks are allowed to implement their own days and times of which their food is available which gives them a plenty of time to give their dishes the time and care they deserve. Unlike most business models with food, the notion that time is money has an entirely different meaning to LocalStove and its cooks.

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“Burmese style Sweet & Tangy Wings” by local cook Nancy Nguyen, Chicken wings smothered in turmeric, curry, and Korean gochujang sauce (served with a side of scallion aioli sauce. Inspired by her recent trip to Myanmar. 24 pieces for $16.

Although eating from LocalStove is still technically “ordering out,” it’s still the closest thing you can get to eating a home-cooked meal at a price comparable to making it yourself, not to mention that meeting the person who actually made it is far more personable that ordering it through an app (but that’s also not to say that you wouldn’t be able to use a third party delivery service such as Favor to get your food delivered). But what excites me the most about LocalStove is not just the quality of their food, but the sheer selection it can potentially open up to Philly. Dishes that would otherwise be considered too time consuming or expensive to make for a mom & pop can now find its place on LocalStove where it will be exposed to curious foodies from all around the city. Similar businesses in the “sharing economy” such as Uber or Airbnb have done the same for us in transit and hospitality in terms of giving us more varied, economical options, and its about time we see the same happen with food.

Local Stove is now live with a full menu for the coming week. You can learn more about them, their cooks, and their menu at their website where you can also apply to become a cook yourself. I genuinely think this could open up a whole new category of food for people in Philly and encourage foodies and cooks alike to give it a try!

 

 

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