A new platform looking to share different food cultures and allow people to establish a side business sharing their culinary passions with others has been launched.
Elena Leeming, who recently moved to York, has created AirCook for You – a platform which she hopes will become the food equivalent of Airbnb.
The recently launched platform is currently looking for people who are willing to host would-be diners.
Ms Leeming, inset, told The Yorkshire Post: “We want to give an opportunity to hosts who don’t have a spare room or another property to rent out but who are good in the kitchen to make a side living by utilising their cooking skills.”
The idea was sparked by Ms Leeming’s own experiences of being invited in by hosts while living abroad.
“Myself and my husband have been living in different countries and we’ve always been invited to people’s homes,” she said.
When she put the idea to other people, Ms Leeming realised that others had similar experiences of enjoying meals with hosts.
“When I started to put this idea across to my friends, who have travelled, they said some of the best experiences that they’ve had has been dining with local hosts,” she said.
Ms Leeming, alongside her husband Darren, runs marketing agency Leeming Solutions.
The couple met in Ireland in 2014. Ms Leeming was born in Western Siberia and spent most of her adult life living in Ireland. The couple moved to Yorkshire recently.
She believes people in Britain are a bit wary about inviting strangers into their home for a meal.
Therefore the business is also allowing those that wish to host to be booked to come to the home of the person wanting to book a meal.
Ms Leeming added: “We’re not aiming it at restaurant chains or anything like that but if you’re an independent owner of a cafe or a bistro, you can put your offering on there.”
The entrepreneur says that meals cooked must be authentic.
She said: “The whole idea is to give travellers, people who visit, a local experience but also give local people an opportunity to taste something authentic.
“If you go to a Chinese restaurant or an Indian takeaway you’re not getting authentic food that people of India or China cook at home. The whole idea is just to break down that boundary and introduce people to authentic cuisine.”
AirCook for You is hoping to work with York Unifying Multicultural Initiatives (Yumi) next year.
Yumi aims to bring different cultures together and Ms Leeming hopes the partnership will add a more varied range of cuisines to the platform.
As well as the cultural aspect, Ms Leeming believes that Air Cook for You can also help tackle the problem of loneliness.
She said: “I don’t think anybody should eat 90 per cent of their meals alone. I think by sharing our meals we can be more social, improve our diets and subsequently our health and mental health.”
Currently, the challenge for the business is to populate the platform with hosts. Ms Leeming says the business will take 10 per cent of the booking fee.
“They can decide whatever the meal price is,” she added. “We don’t have a say in that.”
Once fully operational – the platform only launched in September – Ms Leeming plans to distribute brochures at tourist offices and farm shops advertising the service.
Ultimately, she hopes that it will help hosts pursue their ambitions of entering the food industry.