Menu Next Door: Airbnb of the food world

By Aimee Shaw

European startup Menu Next Door lets its customers explore what is cooking in their neighbourhood. Photo / iStock
European startup Menu Next Door lets its customers explore what is cooking in their neighbourhood. Photo / iStock

Have you ever wanted your neighbours to cook you dinner?

European startup Menu Next Door - the Airbnb of the food world - is letting its customers experience just that.

The food-sharing platform, which is currently only available in Paris and Brussels, allows its users to explore what is cooking in their neighbourhood at a reasonable price.

So far the company boasts more than 900 home cooks - 600 in Belgium and 300 in France, with meals costing diners around 10 euros (NZ$16).

The business relies solely on community and a love of food to operate.

While meal delivery isn't yet an option, Menu Next Door's website states: "meeting your chef and getting the chance to talk to them about the dish they've prepared is what makes this something more than just a takeaway".

In Europe a license to sell homemade food is not needed. However, in New Zealand, a permit is required under the Food Act 2014.

According to the Act, all food businesses preparing food for sale in a home kitchen can do so as long as they comply with rules for home businesses, are registered under FCP licensing and have a food safety plan.

Could this business model work in New Zealand?

Auckland Council environmental health manager Mervyn Chetty said under the Act, it is feasible to use domestic kitchens for commercial purposes - as long as the food operator meets the requirements of a risk-based measure (Food Control Plan or National Programme).

However, it is understood that the Act's food safety plan is rigid, making it tough for domestic kitchens to meet the requirement standards.

A Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) spokesperson also confirmed people are allowed to sell food they made at home.

"This means that they must meet the same food safety standards as other food businesses," MPI spokesperson said.

While the Ministry of Primary Industries couldn't say if the business model would work here, a spokesperson said there are no specific requirements against it under New Zealand food and safety law.

- NZ Herald

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