Manuela Ribeiro has an addiction. It doesn’t involve drugs or alcohol, and it’s not even particularly unhealthy. It’s cooking.
A few months ago, the 30-year-old teacher decided it was time to put her nearly-obsessive habit to good use. She signed up on the website Bookalokal, and now welcomes strangers into her Brussels flat twice a week for lavish dinner parties.
Ribeiro charges roughly 35 euros ($37) per person for what is usually a three-course meal that can last up to three hours. For Ribeiro, it’s become the perfect platform to monetise her money-guzzling obsession with buying food, trying out new recipes and organising dinner parties.
“I thought to myself that it would be a great opportunity to share my passion for food and for cooking, to meet new people and to learn new things from them,” said Ribeiro, who makes 200 to 250 euros ($212 to $265) profit each month hosting diners. Sometimes she prepares traditional Brazilian dishes in honour of her native home, other times she’ll pair dinner courses with her favourite beers or teach classes on how to make cake pops.
Researchers say “peer-to-peer dining” is the next frontier of the sharing economy, a socio-economic system made famous by companies like Uber and Airbnb that’s built around the sharing, for pay, of human and physical resources.
Market intelligence firm Euromonitor International called it one of the biggest trends to look out for in 2015, and a wave of new start-ups like Bookalokal, EatWith and VizEat are pioneering a way for budding chefs to earn additional income from their talents, while offering authentic experiences for travellers and locals alike.
How it works
Peer-to-peer dining websites have been called “the Airbnb of home-cooked meals” because they operate under similar principles. Each website bills itself as a community where users can buy and sell food-related experiences and rate them afterwards for quality control.