The coronavirus pandemic has triggered a major shift away from restaurant dining, leaving many chefs in Japan out of work and looking to devise ways to stay in business with their normal clientele reluctant to venture out.
Adding to the already booming food delivery business, the hiring of chefs to cook high-quality dishes in home kitchens has become increasingly popular as a way for people to conveniently access restaurant-quality meals while staying at home, safe from the coronavirus.
“It’s been a great help because we can’t really eat out now and I’m pretty occupied with raising my child,” said a doctor in her 30s, who has recently returned to work from maternity leave.
“Unlike food delivery services, we can discuss what meals we desire (with the chef), and I really like that,” she said at her residence in Tokyo.
The family regularly uses a subscription service in which the chef prepares meals for three to four nights for a fee of 7,480 yen, not including food costs, per visit.
“I get a little nervous when I use someone else’s kitchen, but it’s a very good learning experience,” said Reki Uchiyama, the 47-year-old chef who cooks meals and is registered with Sharedine Co, a company that dispatches chefs to its customers’ homes.
At the doctor’s home, where she lives with her husband and infant, Uchiyama prepared some 10 dishes in approximately three hours. Upon request, Sharedine can match individual “personal chefs” with their regular customers to make the accommodation of nutritional preferences easier.
Online reviews from customers have been generally positive and the lifeline Sharedine has provided to out of work chefs has been a godsend during the pandemic.