Namira Hossain (CEO), Misha Ali (Co Founder) and Adnan Karim (Director) used to host little dinner parties with friends back in the days in 2015. They were a bunch of foodies, all of them fantastic cooks, who would prepare big feasts and invite people over. People would post the pictures of the dishes on Facebook sometimes and others would be eager to try it. Of course, their friends would get preferences so they would mostly keep inviting the same people.
They wondered if there was a way through which they could share this love of home cooked meals with many others. This year, they thought about starting a platform where others who love to cook could be connected with foodies, young working professionals who do not necessarily have the time or know how to cook.
They made plans to start working on an app in June and then they all went for their holidays. That's when the attack on Holey Artisan cafe happened. Life changed as they knew it in Dhaka, and for the first time people were scared to enjoy one of their favourite pastimes - going to restaurants. The trio knew, then and there, that it was the time to start. So they opened the Facebook group - Cookups Pilot, posted their first offer and crossed their fingers and toes waiting to see what would happen and it just took off!
Cookups is a platform for buying and selling home-made food. AirBnB for food, if you will. The cooks decide what they will be making on each day and post that a few days in advance. The diners can see what offers are available and they order the food from there. They have their delivery partners, “Oi Khali” and “Go Fetch” to deliver the food to them, collect the money and return it to the Cooks! So basically, you have all this amazing food at your fingertips and you can eat it in the comfort of your own home! Now how amazing is that?
Bangladeshis LOVE food, especially home-made food. We can be heard from the waxing lyrical about our "maa-er haatey ranna" or "nani'r haatey ranna"
They best part is, you can order every cuisine you can imagine – they have had Deshi of course, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Korean, Filipino, Mexican. Little did they know that, there were so many talented home cooks out there. They also deliver to almost every area. Although they haven't had Old Town just yet, they are looking forward for cooks out there too, as they are expanding their services throughout the city.
To maintain the hygiene, they do kitchen checks before the Cooks are registered to post. The owners, themselves visit the kitchens, and make a list of questions they ask, to see if the Cooks fit the bill. The whole system is built on trust; if you are buying food from a stranger - you need to know that it is from a hygienic source. If a stranger is buying your food, you need to know that they will follow through on their orders and not cancel in the last minute. They ensure that these things will not happen.
For Namira, there are two ways how she would like to see the future of Cookups. Bangladeshis LOVE food, especially home-made food. We can be heard from the waxing lyrical about our "maa-er haatey ranna" or "nani'r haatey ranna", and we love to feed people. It's our way of showing warmth and hospitality. Many of the Cooks were somewhat bored at home with not much to do, and now Cookups has given them a new lease on life - doing what they love. For her, that is the best thing because she genuinely believe it has helped people - to not only feel like they have a purpose but also in earning extra income and gaining appreciation. She wants to see a Cookups Cook in every corner of the city first, then the country and then keep moving outwards into Asia. This has a sense of community to it which she feels will work very well in this part of the world.