Other services like Blue Apron, Plated, Purple Carrot, and Sun Basket will ship weekly deliveries with the ingredients and cooking instructions for multiple meals, but you have to prepare them yourself. Meals from Umi Kitchen, on the other hand, have been prepared and cooked in small quantities by local cooks working from their own kitchens.
Umi is an app platform that helps home chefs cook for strangers, as long as the strangers live in the vicinity of Brooklyn or Manhattan, east of 5th Avenue between Houston and 116th streets.
Any of the millions of people within Umi’s current service area can order meals from the app, but not just anyone can cook for Umi. People who want to offer meals submit an application. The next step is for the founders to taste a sample menu. Cooks do not have to always offer the same meal, but they do need a signature dish. According to the company, each cook (also called an Umi) only prepares a few of their favorite dishes each night. The accepted cooks must also take and pass the same food safety training required for New York restaurant workers.
Patrons can open the app and decide what they would like to order from the selection of meals. They can order up to seven days in advance, but same-day orders must be placed by 2 p.m. Your meal will be delivered by Postmates, cooked and ready to eat. You also receive reheating instructions, an ingredient list, and a personal note from the cook.
Umi’s founders may have created a new gig-economy category. Restaurant deliveries are certainly not new, especially not in New York City, but the delivery of home-cooked meals is original. If Umi’s concept spreads, someone is going to have to decide whether to call it meal-hailing or cook-sharing or something else.