While Covid has caused all sorts of trials and tribulations, one silver lining is how it’s given many of us more time to explore our identities as home cooks. For some, that’s even meant a transition from hobbyist to merchant, and finding a way to sell their goods. The pandemic also left many professional chefs and bakers without jobs, forcing them to utilize their talents in new, creative ways from their kitchens at home.

As a result, consumers are more open to buying food that’s homemade than they have been in the past, when start-ups like Homemade and Umi Kitchen had trouble gaining traction and operating in a legal grey area of food laws. The combination of a shifting regulatory environment and the fact that eaters and cooks alike have been spending more time at home has paved the way for an increasingly viable movement for home cooks. Here’s how companies like Foodnome, Minimart, and of course, Bottle, are empowering home cooks and fostering innovation within hyper-local food scenes.

Creating Economic Opportunity

There’s no food more authentic to a given region than what locals are cooking at home. Foodnome capitalizes on this notion by providing diners with access to homemade food cooked by permitted chefs in their neighborhood.

Foodnome’s key purpose is to create economic opportunity by allowing home cooks to get paid for their food. They provide online ordering software, business support ranging from permitting to marketing, and a network of other home cooks and hungry diners.

Certain laws—or lack thereof—still make it tricky to gain proper licenses and kickstart a home cooking business. That’s why Foodnome is campaigning to legalize the sale of homemade food by advocating for the passage of AB-626 (a law that makes it easier for home cooks to become vendors) in counties across California.

Supporting the Independent Food Community

Minimart was founded in March to support the wave of informal food businesses that were popping up as a result of restaurant industry lay-offs. Now, over 60 food entrepreneurs across the country use Minimart to host their menus, take and fulfill orders, and streamline email communications with customers.

Business owners on Minimart are able to take payment through whatever third party service they prefer, such as Venmo, PayPal, or even cash, which avoids pricey credit card processing fees. And since most of the vendors on Minimart are selling to their immediate communities, the software gives them the power to do their own deliveries and facilitate pick-ups instead of having to pay the exorbitant fees of courier services.

The platform is especially popular amongst cottage bakeries, as it makes it easy for pastry chefs and bakers from LA to New Orleans to put together offerings—from artisanal cookies to thick slices of cake—sell to their fans, and orchestrate pick-ups.

Powering Repeat Revenue & Keeping Food Local

And then, of course, there’s Bottle. Our mission is to build the local food system by empowering makers to facilitate pre-orders and create a recurring revenue stream through memberships.

Home cooks, caterers, meal prep services, and more use Bottle to connect with their customers via text message and sell to them in a flexible manner. At Bottle, we understand that just because you want to buy a fresh loaf of sourdough or a selection of ready-made meals one week doesn’t mean you will need a refill the next. Everyone has different needs and wants, and those change over time. That’s why Bottle empowers makers to send automatic reminders and offer loyalty rewards to keep their customers engaged without locking them into a subscription.

For talented home cooks looking to turn their passion into profit, the potential to establish a business has never been more promising.