Home cooks in Singapore tap meal-sharing apps to earn extra income, reduce food waste

(l-r) Singapore's home cooks Wyatt Tan, James Satya and Josephine Goh. (Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)
(From left) Home cooks Wyatt Tan, James Satya and Josephine Goh. (PHOTO: Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)

As more Singaporeans crave wholesome, home-cooked meals but are too busy to prepare them, William Seow saw it as an opportunity to bring stay-at-home cooks and hungry professionals together through a convenient buy-and-sell app for foodies.

“See it as the Carousell for foodies,” said Seow, the co-founder and owner of Share Food Singapore.

He explained to Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore that home cooks, some of whom are full-time chefs, register themselves as cooks on the app after going through a basic food hygiene course under the National Environment Agency (NEA). They then create a seller account that promotes their home-cooked specialties, prices and location.

“Many (Singaporeans) yearn for home-cooked food, but due to various commitments outside of home, (it) is just a dream for many. The Share Food mobile app allows foodies to savour the taste of home-cooked meals easily, and that meal could just be a short two-minutes’ walk away,” said the app’s co-founder Loo Pei Wen.

Through the app, customers can browse for home-cooked meals based on type of cuisine and location. To make things even more convenient, the app also indicates the travel time between the customers’ and cooks’ homes.

An internal messaging feature allows customers and cooks to clarify on the price, food portions as well as meeting points.

Beyond feeding hungry millennials in Singapore, the app also helps home cooks to cut down on food wastage while earning additional income.

(l-r) Singapore's home cooks Wyatt Tan, James Satya and Josephine Goh. (Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)
James Satya’s specialties are mutton briyani and butter chicken. (PHOTO: Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)

For chef James Satya, 31, who cooks for hundreds of patrons at Luke’s Oyster Bar and Chop House each day, downsizing his portions when cooking at home becomes a struggle.

“My wife and I end up having a lot of food left because I’m so used to cooking for a lot of people. It’s not easy reducing the portions of your ingredients as it might affect the taste. Sometimes, what makes food taste good comes from cooking them with big portions of ingredients,” said Satya, who lives in Ang Mo Kio.

His specialties are mutton briyani, which costs $4 a plate, and butter chicken. Unlike the butter chicken at many Indian street food stalls that tend to change the ingredients to cut down on cost, James sticks to the original recipes. “Sometimes these stalls don’t use cashew nuts in their butter chicken because they’re too expensive,” he said.

Home cook Josephine Goh carrying a plate of chicken rendang at her doorstep. (Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)
Home cook Josephine Goh with a plate of chicken rendang. (PHOTO: Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)

For housewife Josephine Go, 53, cooking has been her passion since visiting Hong Kong about 30 years ago, where she discovered Cantonese cuisine, as well as her husband – with whom she now has two children. As the family’s sole cook, Goh takes her cooking seriously, ensuring that her meals are healthy and tasty.

“My family and I rarely go out to eat, especially to places that sell foods that I myself can cook at home, and even better. The problem with foods sold outside is that you never know what ingredients they put in them,” said Goh. “It could be additives like taste enhancers or food colourings. And these are not healthy for you.”

She believes that home-cooked foods will be a success among the growing health conscious and busy Singaporeans. Goh’s specialties are mutton rendang and beetroot cupcakes.

“Some of these places don’t even serve authentic foods even though they claim to be. My mother was a serious cook as well and is very particular about the authenticity of her meals. The same goes for me… we’d only go out to eat foods that I don’t have the skills to make, like Italian risottos,” said the stay-home mother, who also lives in Ang Mo Kio.

Fitness Instagrammer and baker Wyatt Tan carrying a plate of protein-rich desserts in his living room. (Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)
Fitness Instagrammer and baker Wyatt Tan with a plate of protein-rich desserts. (PHOTO: Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)

For fitness junkies with a sweet tooth, Instagrammer and baker Wyatt Tan, 33, serves up protein-rich chocolate and peanut butter cookies. He uses sugar substitutes and lots of protein in his bakes, which also include birthday cakes and macarons.

“I lost a lot of weight over the last four years and I hope to retain it. I also love desserts a lot, and the lack of healthy desserts in Singapore led me to start baking them myself, using healthier options or ingredients suitable for fitness junkies like me,” said Tan. “Most of the ingredients are used can be sourced at local supermarkets, others are from the US, which I’ll buy online.”

Share Food has a total of 100 home cooks registered with them so far.

Another app that is also tapping on the home-cooked food demand is Dine Inn, founded by Mandarin Oriental Hotel’s chef executive Eric Teo. The soon-to-be launched app, which aims to be the Airbnb for foodies, caters to tourists looking for authentic Singaporean cuisine as well.

For those concerned about the legalities of the emerging F&B business concept, Loo said that “if home cooks abide by HDB/URA’s home-based small-scale business scheme and observe proper food handling, then there are no major worries to be concerned about”.

Food safety and home-based business schemes being overseen by the NEA, the HDB and the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

The Share Food app is available for iOS and Android via the App Store and Google Play respectively.