“It’s brutal,” Jon Halston confided in LotusMeal founder Stew Houston in early 2015.
“The hours are long, there’s hostility in the kitchen, and there’s a complete disconnect between management and the cooking staff,” added Jon.
Jon has worked as a line cook for major restaurant chains throughout Canada and the northern US for the past 8 years. He’s even worked under renowned chef and celebrity presenter Hugh Acheson.
Nearly a decade in, however, Jon is starting to the feel the wear of kitchen life and has recently expressed interest in going solo.
Enter LotusMeal. LotusMeal enables trained cooks, accredited chefs, and even plain old food enthusiasts to begin selling their creations online. “These cooks have the opportunity to design their own menus, interact with customers, and build a name for themselves without the risk of starting a conventional restaurant or meal delivery service,” explains founder Stew Houston.
“This lowers the barrier of entry into the business-side of cooking, and turns everyday cooks into bona fide personal chefs.” And there’s no shortage of customers, either. Over a billion dollars was invested in meal delivery service startups in the past year alone.
The demand for nonconventional meal services is booming. This presents an opportunity for cooking professionals, or pros-in-training, to start earning a livable income independent of the standard employers that Jon has known for the past 8 years. “This is it,” continues Stew. “This is the project that I’ve been waiting to work on for longer than I can remember.” Mirroring Jon’s efforts in the kitchen, Stew has worked at startups and web studios for the past decade.
“The market is there, and I’ve been able to put together a team that has the know-how to not only make this real, but to make it exceptional.” Stew confides that the biggest challenge to date has been the regulatory laws surrounding the cooking of meats, eggs, and organics in noncommercial kitchens. “Every State and Province handles things a bit differently. In most cases there will be no issues, but we are taking food safety very seriously, and follow all protocols outlined by municipal, state, and provincial lawmakers.”
The LotusMeal team is planning for a winter 2015 launch, and show discernable signs of optimism that the product will be embraced by the community. With their financials in order, they’ve considered the possibility of working with a VC firm, but are leaning toward independence.