Wouldn’t it be nice to get a homemade meal delivered straight to your door? Something tasty, unique – and requiring absolutely no cooking knowledge or use of your own kitchen? Well, DoorDash and other food delivery services are a great option for this but what if you’re craving ethnic, local or specialty meals?
There’s an option for that, and it’s called Shef. Shef is a service that delivers homemade meals, cooked by local cooks in your city, straight to your door. Sound too good to be true? You’re right – there are some pros and cons to this service, which I’ll break down below.
I recently placed my first order and overall, in this Shef review, I found that there is a lot of promise for a company like this out there. What’s unique about Shef is that all the homecooked food is made by a local chef in your area. There are a lot of ethnic food options, and you’re supporting a local chef making homecooked meals.
Find out if Shef is operating in your city and get started with Shef today using my link and get $10 off with my code harryc!
- My Shef meal was solid, and ordering is straightforward and easy
- Knowing which cooks are good is trial and error
- Scaling may be a challenge for this company given that it’s based on homemade food – how do they ensure the same safety standards as a commercial kitchen?
What is Shef?: Options, Availability and Pricing
Shef delivers homemade meals, made by local cooks, right to your order. You can choose from a variety of cuisines depending on what’s available in your city.
Beyond “supporting local”, I like to support restaurants, chefs, cooks, etc. who cook really good food. I also like the idea that you can order local ethnic foods prepared by local chefs, many of whom are female and people of color, which is cool.
Shef provides an opportunity for cooks to get their meals into the hands of more people without having to put up the time and money to own their own restaurants.
Shef is currently available in southern California, San Francisco, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Seattle and New York City with plans to expand.
Shef meals begin at $7 per meal, and you can generally purchase add ons like sides and desserts. Availability of meals, cuisines, and sides depends on what the Shef you order from is offering.
Shef has raised over $20 million dollars since its founding in 2018 and was founded by Alvin Salehi (former White House Technology Advisor and founder of Code.gov) and Joey Grassia (former Facebook employee and two-time food startup entrepreneur). In addition, the former OpenTable CEO Jeff Jordan has also joined Shef’s board.
Ordering Process for Shef
The ordering process for Shef is straightforward – simply visit the site, type in your zip code and see what Shef homecooked meal options are available.
From there, you’ll be able to see local favorites, meals with next-day delivery, or search for a particular favorite cuisine. You’ll order a few days in advance, so chefs have enough time to buy and prep ingredients for your meal.
One thing I like about Shef is there is no requirements to buy into a subscription service – meals are all one-off, meaning you can try a variety of meals whenever you want. Want Mexican one night and Filipino a week later? You can order that, as long as a Shef in your area offers it!
You also always know exactly what you’re getting with each meal. In this hummus example below, I’m able to quickly see the description, main ingredients, and even how spicy this item is!
Shef also includes common allergy warnings, which is helpful, especially if anyone in your family has food allergies.
Delivery and Taste: My Shef Review
I ended up choosing Filipino food from Shef Alexis here in LA, and I ordered pancit canton, chicken adobo, Ube sugar cookies, and pork BBQ skewers. Meal prices vary, and full meals start at $7 per person.
Delivery from Shef was also a breeze. Interestingly, it appears as though Shef uses DoorDash Drive to make their deliveries, which is DoorDash’s last-mile fulfillment service.
My meal even came with a handwritten note from Shef Alexis, which I thought was great. It’s good to know the Shefs want to hear from customers and learn how they can make things better if necessary.
Overall, the food was good – although I was perplexed why we didn’t receive any rice! The noodles were good, but the pork was dry and the adobo was so-so. The Ube cookies were delicious! So 2 for 4, not bad for a first-time order/experience.
Tips for Ordering With Shef
As you can see, getting a completely delicious meal via Shef may involve some trial and error. Shef is not DoorDash, where you order from a top local restaurant and receive meal quality that is, hopefully, more or less the same across the board, and/or can verify reviews on third-party sites like Yelp, Michelin, Zagat, etc.
Since Shefs are cooking from their homes, meal quality can vary and you may need to try several Shefs until you find one you and your family really like.
I do think Shef could do a better job of not only noting the best selling meals but also the top-rated meals in your city.
Also, you may be wondering about cooking conditions for chefs who are cooking out of their own homes. Shef says cooks go through a 150 step onboarding process, which includes a food safety certification exam and food quality assessment.
However, as HNGRY reports, this is a legally questionable practice. And I am not sure it’s the best idea to have thousands of chefs all cooking in their home kitchens without any sort of regulators popping in occasionally.
One solution may be to allow Shefs to share a licensed commercial kitchen or maybe even do visual inspections/etc with regulators or Shef’s safety team. Not sure exactly what the right solution is here, but I do think Shef should learn from other on-demand company’s failings and take a proactive approach to food safety/questions of regulation.
Pros and Cons of Shef
- Supporting local cooks in your city
- Delicious variety of local ethnic foods
- One-off service – doesn’t require a subscription
- Delivery is fast and reliable
- Free shipping with orders over $25!
- Shef is playing fast and loose with home kitchen operations/sanitary guidelines
- Shef will suffer from scaling issues, although they are seeking to onboard thousands of new Shefs
- Cooks can control how many meals they sell, but if some cooks sell too many, quality could suffer
- Will have to try several Shefs to find one you love
Should You Try Shef?
Overall, if Shef is available in your city and you like the idea of supporting locally made ethnic food, I would say go for it!
If you do sign up to try Shef, make sure to use my referral link for $10 off!
Just because I didn’t love everything in my Shef order doesn’t mean all Shefs will offer the same experience. The next Shef I try could knock the whole order out of the park and become a new favorite!
While I am cautious about the sanitary issues surrounding homemade meals, it looks like Shef will be using a recent $20 million investment to figure out how to get the service legalized in more markets and onboard new chefs in new markets.
What do you think – if Shef is available in your city, would you try it out?
-Harry @ RSG