Have you ever considered getting a personal chef? Most likely not—because unless you’re famous, it probably didn’t seem like a viable option. But two students in Sloan’s executive MBA program have come up with a fast-growing platform that brings professionally-trained chefs to your door to cook your meals—all at a reasonable cost. Tomasz Grzegorczyk ’16 and Malena Gonzalez ’16 started On Demand Chefs earlier this year and already have more than 50 people using the service, all just by word of mouth. The service provides healthy meals cooked right in your kitchen, and the menu is generated using nutritional data, with a focus on convenience and customization. And, the chefs will even do all the shopping for you.
What makes their startup unique and impressive, is how it works. “We created a platform to connect chefs with households to cook everyday meals,” says Gonzalez, “and there’s a lot of science in the background to make this platform sustainable.”
The platform works using an algorithm. By sourcing information from the USDA database about daily recommended food nutrition, combined with data analytics and scripting, as well as each client’s food preferences, the platform can track food intake and make personalized recommendations based on nutritional needs.
The pair originally created the algorithm for their other venture, ValueMe, which won them the prize at the MIT Global Challenge. ValueMe was specifically designed to calculate nutritional data based on a grocery list and offer suggestions of what might be missing from your diet. They spun out On Demand Chefs because they realized that part of the challenge is coming up with new recipes and finding the time to actually cook nutritionally balanced meals. “We wanted to use data analytics to help people make better nutrition choices,” says Gonzalez. “We can take any ingredient list and convert it to nutrition and give recommendations of what’s missing.”
Another key element in the success of their business is the chefs. They promise to provide the best and use only trained culinary professionals. Once each chef’s qualifications have been checked, they cook for Gonzalez and Grzegorczyk for two hours preparing four meals and cleaning when finished, just as they will do for the customers. “Not only do we validate that they are able to cook, but the interaction with the customer is very very important.”