Want a Valley chef to cook Indian in your kitchen using eggplant from a local farm? How about Thai kicking with chiles raised locally via urban agriculture? Pasta or sopapillas? An new app here in Phoenix will allow users to hire Valley chefs to do just that.
Described by founder Roza Ferdowsmakan as “a hybrid of Tinder and Airbnb” for people who love food, bites. is a free app (iPhone and Android) that was originally slated for a July launch, but will now drop in September — at which time it will run in beta for three months in Phoenix before being launched nationally.
Listed chefs will range in experience from home cooks (who are technically not chefs) to pro restaurant chefs. Each chef will have a Twitter-length profile showcasing what he or she can cook along with pictures and the farms from which they source produce.
Users will dial in what kind of food they want, where they want that food cooked, and when. Profiles of available chefs will appear and users can peruse them by ratings on a five-star scale and read user-written reviews before making their selection, at which point users will message the chef to arrange their in-home meal.
During the in-home cooking session, users can ask questions and engage with their chef, or keep distant and, say, chill outside and sip a beer until the from-scratch meal is ready.
Ferdowsmakan, an attorney for tech startups, has three goals for bites., the first of which is making “culinary adventures” accessible to people of all socioeconomic levels. An immigrant from Iran, she experienced a culinary awakening herself as a teen when she bit into quiche at a garden table during a dinner party held by her mom’s professor. The quiche was surreal. (In a good way.) The experience kindled a hunger in Ferdowsmakan for the thrill of food-related discovery. This is the thrill she hopes others will feel as they are introduced to new cuisines through the in-home chef experience.
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Her second goal is to create a new layer of service-economy work for those who cook, especially restaurant chefs who have extra time in the off-season. She says that chefs have expressed excitement over the possibilities of the app, and she has gained more than 400 chef friends on Facebook since conceiving the app. The ability of area chefs to freelance in homes, the thorny logistics of which are streamlined through the app, could change the model of how chefs work in the future.
Her final goal is to make bites. a platform for giving local farms more exposure.
“There’s a whole bunch of growers in Phoenix," she explains. "Some of these growers aren’t listed anywhere.” Users’ exposure to and experience of local produce through hired cooks will, she hopes, foster relationships between consumers and area farmers.
Look for the app in mid-September.