There are tens of thousands of restaurants in New York City, but anyone who lives here — or anywhere, really — knows that dining establishments are only the beginning of food culture in any given place. There are food trucks, carts, and farmers markets, of course, but then there are plenty of extremely talented home cooks with dishes just begging to be tried. But it can be tricky to find those truly hidden gems.
Well, it isn’t anymore. Thanks to Shef, a new food ordering platform that allows you to find amazing homemade food made by people in your community.
What Is Shef?
Somewhere between GrubHub, an internationally-inspired farmers market, and buying tamales from a person in the park, Shef describes itself as “an online marketplace” for local cooks to sell their homemade dishes to their neighbors. For its shefs, it simplifies the process of marketing your small business and builds an audience. For the people ordering, it promises safe, delicious, and unique food prepared by your neighbors.
The brand’s name combines the words “she” and “chef,” and 85% of people selling their food on the platform identify as women, while 80% identify as people of color. The cuisines available on the platform include over 85 different countries. For example, when I browsed for my Brooklyn zip code, I found dishes from all over the world, including Guyana, Pakistan, Korea, Colombia, Italy, India, and many, many more places.
Shef prioritizes food safety, with all of their “shefs” undergoing an accredited food safety certification exam.
Where Is Shef Available?
Shef is currently available in 12 different major city markets. I ordered in New York City, but the service also operates in: New Jersey, the Bay Area, Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Austin, Dallas, Boston, Atlanta, and the Washington, D.C., area.
My Experience With Shef
Shef works like other food ordering platforms. You enter your zip code, and available home cooks are available for you to scroll through. Unlike GrubHub or DoorDash, you do need to order your food at least one day in advance.
We placed our order on Friday for Sunday. My husband and I are total foodies and like to constantly try new-to-us dishes and New York’s hottest restaurants. Browsing Shef with him was one of the most enjoyable parts of the experience, and we were truly blown away by the variety of cuisines available. We debated between braised oxtail (my husband’s favorite dish), palak paneer (one of my favorite dishes), and tons of other options. At the end of the day, we landed on ordering from KocoComida, a kitchen that blends together Korean and Colombian cuisines and had things we were both excited to sample.
When ordering, there was only one delivery window available, between 4 and 7 p.m., which worked decently well for us. We had plans in the early afternoon on Sunday but were looking forward to a low-key evening at home.
When Sunday came around, our early afternoon plans caught up with us, and we ended up not being home yet when we got a text from a courier saying they were 15 minutes away. I felt a slight sense of panic (unfortunately, package theft can be a bit of an issue in my building) and was still not home when the delivery was made. Fortunately, the delivery driver texted me, I told them my apartment number, and they just dropped the reusable insulated bag in front of my door.
When I got home about 45 minutes post-delivery, the bag was still in front of my door!
Inside, the contents were still ice cold, and I began to unpack everything.
The food containers came with simple reheating directions. Most of the items we ordered could be reheated in the microwave for a few minutes or on the stove for a few minutes longer. A pack of empanadas we received came with directions for reheating in the oven or air fryer. We chose to have the food for dinner that day, but the containers said the dishes would still be good for another three days, if necessary.
So, I know what you’re wondering: how was the food? Absolutely delicious.
I consider myself a pretty decent home cook, but nothing I make matches the flavor that exploded from the empanadas, which brilliantly married together a Colombian crust with Korean fillings like bulgogi and japchae. The soups and noodles were absolutely scrumptious, too, and rivaled those that we had tried from other delivery spots and quick eat restaurants around the city.
Get $10 Off Your Order
I’m honestly excited to order food from Shef again — I had plenty of choices, after all — and now you can try it too with a discount.
Shef has an exclusive deal for Bustle readers for $10 off your first order. All you need to do is find the food of your choice, add to cart, and then use the code BUSTLE10 at checkout.
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