Shef connects home cooks with customers interested in buying meals for home delivery
Expected pay: You set it
Commissions & fees: 15%
Where:Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Chicago and select other U.S. cities
Requirements: Any licenses (such as food handling and business) required in your jurisdiction. Pass food safety certification
Shef is a commercial home-cooking site that enlists both professional and amateur chefs to make meals for local clients.
How it works
Cooks sign up with the site and submit a sample of their favorite dishes. They also must certify that they meet all the requirements to be a home cook in their area, including passing a food safety certification course.
Because Shef operates in several states, and food safety requirements are regional, there are sometimes additional requirements for cooks. In California, for instance, home cooks must verify that they are operating as a “microenterprise” or a “cottage food operation.” If you don’t know what that means, consider joining the Cook Alliance, a cooperative aimed at informing and advocating for home cooks.
You then determine what days you’ll cook and present your menus for sale. Shef meals are designed to be delivered cold and heated up by the final consumer. So cooking is done in advance; cooled; and then packed in meal-sized containers for delivery.
Pay and commissions
There is no cost to upload meals for sale on the Shef site. However, the site takes a 15% fee from the cook’s revenue when meals sell. That pays for Shef’s marketing, payment processing and customer support.
Cooks are paid within hours of the customers receiving their food.
Things we like
Customers must order at least one day in advance so that chefs know how many people they need to cook for with enough time to purchase the appropriate amount of ingredients. Cooks also are instructed to make the meals with enough advance preparation time so that they cool them before they’re packed up for delivery.
You can offer discounts, which will come out of your pay. But, if Shef offers a discount, it comes out of the site’s pocket, not yours.
A separate company will pick up the food and deliver it to customers.
You determine the price of your meals on Shef. And because you are an independent contractor, you pay the cost of all ingredients and the cost of packaging. The site has an agreement with Restaurant Depot that can allow you to get supplies at a discount. When pricing meals, a good rule of thumb is to charge at least 2.5 times the cost of your ingredients for each meal.
The only downside to Shef’s advance ordering process is that it eliminates the chance for spontaneous orders that you might not mind accommodating, since you’re cooking anyway. But this is a pretty minor complaint.
We like this site for home cooks. You may also want to sign up with Shef competitor, DishDivvy, if you happen to live in the Los Angeles area.