A lot of us would cook more “if we only had the time”; home cooked meals are often cheaper and healthier than restaurant food, plus they’re made with that intangible quality called l-o-v-e. A newly-launched app called Foodie Shares wants to connect people who want home cooked food with people who have time to make it. The community-based model works a bit like AirBnb or Uber, but instead of offering accommodation or rides, it lets you hire a private chef on a meal-by-meal basis.

Here’s how it works. Once you download the app, you log in as a member and browse the available meals in your vicinity (the app currently only covers select areas of L.A.). You order and pay through the app, and then select pickup or delivery. The meal should arrive on your doorstep within 20 minutes to an hour.

Photo: Foodie Shares

So who’s doing the cooking? The chef could be anyone from a trained professional trying to make some extra dough, to an amateur home cook who has a passion to feed people. Every chef sets their own menu and prices (right now most dishes are between $8–$14), and have total creative control.

“Our chefs have the freedom to cook authentic cuisines in line with their beliefs,” co-founder George Mathew tells First We Feast. “Chefs from different ethnicities can cook their foods the proper way. Other chefs can choose to source only from local farmers markets or only organic. Vegans can cook for vegans.”

While some chefs might be willing to accommodate special requests and dietary requirements, Mathew does caution that you probably shouldn’t use the app if you have a severe food allergy.

Photo: Foodie Shares

Even if you’re allergy-free, there is some inherent risk to using the app. Anyone can apply to be a chef on the Foodie Shares platform, and although they may be subject to an interview or other mild vetting process, the community relies on peer reviews for quality control just like AirBnb does. If customers request a refund, file complaints, or a chef racks up too many negative reviews, they can be booted from the site.

That may be good enough for users, but we’re wondering how the Department of Health will react to an unregulated marketplace for meals. “We’re part of the sharing economy, and many government bodies don’t know how to deal with companies like us,” admits Mathew. “Our food is not available to the general public but only to our members, who agree to our terms and conditions and understand that all of the food is homemade. You can think of us as a ‘virtual potluck’ from a regulatory view.”

If government bodies don’t try to crack down on the app and there’s enough consumer interest, Foodie Shares is hoping to expand to other cities by the end of the year. If there’s a big enough demand for this service, who knows how the peer-to-peer sharing economy might disrupt the restaurant industry.

[via LA Weekly]