Local home-made food businesses on the rise

By Fantine Carron

Image: Creative Commons license

If the COVID-19 crisis has shown us one thing is that nothing beats a homemade meal. With the rise of food businesses on social media, a new platform has been created to help people expand their home cooked food projects.

Shalom Osiadi is the co-founder and CEO of Esca Menu. [Photo courtesy of Shalom Osiadi]

Since the beginning of the pandemic, home cooking has been on the rise. More and more people started selling food on social media platforms in the hope to build a solid business.

“I noticed how hard it was for people on Instagram to grow a solid customer base”, says Shalom Osiadi, the co-founder of Esca Menu, “and I wanted to help them”.

Esca Menu is a homemade food ordering platform. It is a more local version of mainstream companies like Just Eat or Deliveroo.

The project was created by two friends, Osiadi (CEO) and Igor Strelkov (CTO). Both of them have knowledge in technology and business. Their adventure started back in 2014 when Osiadi was still in college.

“I used to have terrible eating habits, my friends used to call me “pizza boy” because when you would come to my apartment there were empty pizza boxes everywhere. That’s how bad it was,” he says with a smile.

This is when one of his friends started cooking Nigerian meals for him. “It was delicious,” he recalls, “and it really helped me. I eventually pushed her to start her own food business, she did and is now very successful at it.”

But Esca really came to life at the beginning of this year after Osiadi noticed a “significant gap in the market”.

The platform launched in January 2021, by March it had 15 cooks and has now reached 60. The team also grew and has six members now, a number which is set to increase again as they are looking to hire a social media manager in the near future.

Using Esca is easy. For customers, they just go onto the website, type in their address and all the cooks that are nearby will show up. The delivery is operated by Lynk Courier.

To become a cook, all you need to do is fill out a form on the website, your details will then be shared with the HSE and they will send an inspector to your kitchen to make sure adeherence to rules around hygiene. Once you get the certification from the HSE, you can start selling your food.

Each cook has their own price list. Esca Menu can advise but the final decision is left to the cook.

“With Esca, you are your own business, we give you the power to do whatever you want.”

Esca Menu has a 2% commission on the sales of the cook, far less than bigger companies like JustEat that takes around 14%.

For now, the cooks have to use what they have at home. Esca Menu do not have the financial means at the minute to help them if they need more equipment or appliances. They can only assist them in getting certifications that could be useful in the future to develop their businesses.

“We are still in BETA, right now it is more of test of the platform to see if it could work here. So we don’t have big means. We are hoping to properly launch in 2022.”

The platform offers various food types from all over the world. “We have a majority of West-African food, the Indian food is increasing as well as Italian food. Lately we also added artisanal cooks, like there is someone making his own cheese for example. There is diversity for sure.” says Osiadi.

As of today, Esca Menu is only active in Dublin but the co-founder shared his desire to expand to Galway and Cork and then even move to the UK where the majority of the platform’s investors are.

“Our goal is to help as much as possible people who are struggling to build wealth and be financially independent. The future of Esca is definitely bright.”

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