Interview with Claire Ladkin, Founder at FoodTech Platform: All About The Cooks

All About The Cooks is a tech platform, launched late in 2020, which enables food-lovers to order ‘real food’ made by talented local home cooks. I worked with a team to create an MVP to test the concept, understand demand and learn.

The initial launch of the platform was in my home city of Bristol but this is just the start. The platform showcases the amazing diversity of home-cooks in Bristol, from Mauritian, Italian, Turkish, Greek, Vietnamese food and more. I can’t wait to see what other cooks join as the platform grows into other UK cities.

All About The Cooks provides a professional and slick frontage for cooks, meaning they don’t have to make investments into expensive websites and systems. Ordering via the platform also gives reassurances to the customer, as we adopt stringent food safety measures. Customers connect directly with the cook they order from, who may only be a few streets away, to liaise over preferences as well as collection or delivery options.

What’s important to me is that those choosing to buy through All About The Cooks are choosing to keep money local, putting it directly into the pockets of local people. What’s also important me is the significant social impact I believe this business can have.

Our plan is to bring further investment to scale the technology as well as our geographic coverage and grow the team.
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How did you come up with the idea for the company?

I have been a part of the food culture in Bristol for several years, but throughout my life, I have always been motivated by a mission to eat real food made in kitchens, not products made in factories, and am a sucker for a farm shop, food market or honesty box.

Three years ago, I bought a jar of lemon curd, made by volunteers to raise money for Square Food Foundation – a wonderful food organisation I admire. Every time I went to the fridge and saw this delicious lemon curd, I felt good about it, and started thinking…. what if it was easier to buy home-cooked food made by talented local people? We all love home-cooked food, but it’s not always easy to achieve, for all sorts of reasons. So, we compromise when in fact if we were just aware of the local talented home-cooks in our neighbourhoods, we’d all be able to benefit.

I was also acutely aware that it is very difficult for talented people to make money from their skills – working in the food industry is very weekend and evening heavy and there are financial outlay and risks involved for people to start their own businesses. I’d expected that most of these people were women, often with circumstances that make it difficult for them to earn money in conventional ways – language barriers, cultural barriers, caring & parental responsibilities. I saw the potential not just for a business but for massive social impact.


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

Launching during a global pandemic was not what I had imagined when I first started working on the concept in 2018, but with food and its provenance strongly in public discourse now and with people at home more, I don’t think the concept has suffered significantly as a result of the pandemic. We’ll be glad when people get back to being allowed to socialise in their homes as much of the food on the platform lends itself to dinners parties, picnics and the like, so we do anticipate an uptick in orders when some form of normality returns.

However, we’ve had a flurry of cook sign-ups lately from professional chefs who have been made redundant or furloughed but want to continue cooking for people. This has been a real boost to the platform, and I hope to see many of these continue with us beyond the pandemic – cooking on their own terms.

What can we hope to see from All About The Cooks in the future?

2021 is set to be a significant year of expansion for All About The Cooks. The people of Bristol have embraced the concept but now is the time to scale, going from city to city until we are available across the UK. My ambition is that in a few years from now anyone in the UK could search for local home cooks and find delicious food being cooked along their street or just around the corner.

As a model, All About The Cooks has similarities with Air BnB, and my aim is that it will be as synonymous with home-cooked food as Air BnB is for holiday accommodation! Ordering something delicious and home-made via All About The Cooks will be as easy and as commonplace, UK-wide, as ordering on today’s well-known takeaway apps.

It’s time to revolutionise the way we eat at home.