At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, millions of people discovered the talented chefs living in their midst; with restaurants closed in many countries, chefs based in their kitchens at home found an opportunity to shine, wowing their communities with authentic, great tasting meals. Now Toronto-based Tre’dish wants to support chefs the world over as they bring their talents to the market—it is today announcing the completion of a $10 million seed funding round to support its vision.
“This is a massive market,” says Tre’dish cofounder and CEO Peter Hwang. “There is so much talent out there and so many people who want to support local chefs and buy their amazing food.”
Tre’dish is built on a technology platform that provides home chefs with a single portal through which to offer their meals for sale to the local community. Tre’dish handles the technology, payments and delivery, so all home chefs have to do is prepare their meals as customers order.
Some chefs are already trying to work this way, Hwang points out, through a “grey market” operating on disparate social media platforms. But with no single marketplace through which to promote and sell their meals, home chefs lack visibility, as well as access to the broader infrastructure their businesses require.
Tre’dish is at pains to point out that it is more than simply a delivery service. Many home chefs are highly talented cooks but have little experience of setting up and operating a business; Tre’dish provides a range of business support to help them get up and running, as well as operational guidance on an ongoing basis.
Health and safety, for example, is a crucial consideration—Tre’dish works with chefs to help them understand and comply with food safety standards, and to demonstrate they have done so. It offers consulting and technology that help home chefs develop menus, plan stock levels and understand their customer bases. The company also offers advice on media content, teaching chefs how to become food influencers and content creators.
Hwang, who has started and exited from a series of successful businesses over the past decade, says that he wanted his next venture to have social impact. “This is a community model,” he explains. “We are democratising the food industry with a bottom-up structure.”
In particular, Hwang argues that the Covid-19 pandemic had a disproportionate impact on Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, given the importance of the food and restaurant industry to this constituency. He is therefore focused on how Tre’dish can promote equality of opportunity.
“Tre’dish was built to level the playing field, providing equal access and opportunity for all individuals to once again flourish in the hospitality industry regardless of their cultural background, gender, experience, or financial ability,” Hwang explains. “The only thing that anyone requires is an amazing recipe and the desire to share their food with the world.”
From the consumer’s point of view, Hwang describes Tre’dish as a “virtual food court.” It is an opportunity for consumers to choose from a huge range of dishes prepared by home chefs to authentic and traditional recipes. Even leaving aside the impacts of the pandemic, the company sees the home-to-home concept as a natural extension of the sharing economy. “We may not all be used yet to the idea of buying food cooked in someone else’s home, but a few years ago no-one would have expected to sleep in a stranger’s bed or to get into a stranger’s car,” Hwang says.
In some parts of the world, the home chef market is already a significant presence in the food industry, Hwang says, but in other markets, the backdrop is now right for this concept to grow. High overheads in the restaurant sector have increasingly challenged business owners, with the pandemic representing the final straw for many. In such a landscape, Tre’dish has valued the total addressable market worldwide as worth more than $20 billion.
The company’s business model is based on a 12.5% charge to chefs selling through its platform, plus a 5% fee paid by consumers. In addition, Tre’dish sees opportunities to earn revenues through stock ordering, leveraging the reach of its platform by offering home chefs the opportunity to come together to buy ingredients and equipment.
The Tre’dish model is already up and running in California, where legislation was introduced last year to support the home chef industry. Hwang is now planning to roll out the model in his home city of Toronto in the first quarter of next year, and is working on plans for other markets.
To support that growth, Tre’dish has signed up an impressive array of investors in its funding round, including Wes Hall, the founder of Black North Initiative, and Luis Javier Castro, the founder of Mesoamerica. “Tre’dish is redefining what it means to be a professional chef by taking the hospitality industry beyond its historical confines of bricks and mortar restaurants,” says Hall.