Trybal cooking is on the menu

by Giles Platel - Wednesday October 5, 2016 3:10 pm

Ok they can't spell but can they cook? Giles quizzes the people behin Trybe the homemade meals app.

Trybe is London’s latest food delivery app that seeks to provide a platform for stay at home cooks to sell and deliver homemade meals to hungry locals in the area. I found the concept both intriguing and bewildering and before long I had too many questions whirling around my head for me to pass up an invitation to their launch night, at the aptly named Pickle Factory near Bethnal Green.

Trybe began earlier this year when friends Illka Salo, Leo Wuoristo and Simo Tuokko saw a gap in the market for a delivery service that sold and delivered home cooked meals to your door. Speaking to Illka at the launch I learned about the inspiration behind this new take on takeaway food.

“The turning point for me had come a few years ago when I became uninspired by takeaways and ready meals, so I went to the local market to pick up some food. However before I had even left the building, I was approached by my neighbour who kindly offered me one of her home cooked curries. I was humbled by her generosity so I offered her £5, she was very polite but after I insisted, she accepted the money. I mean it was the least I could do!”

“I took the curry home and I was stunned. This was the best curry I had ever eaten and yet it was cooked only yards from my front door. If I hadn’t have stumbled into my neighbour and she hadn’t kindly offered me some of her meal, I would have never known about it. For me, this is why Trybe was born. We want to empower home cooks to sell and share their amazing food and build a local network – or Trybe as we call it – that will induce the creation of a food community and bring people closer together. That is our aim.”

I am thrilled at the idea of being granted access to food prepared by my neighbours. Some of the best food I have ever eaten has been at the tables of friends and family and not at the white-clothed tables of the local eatery. But how does this work in practice? Will a Trybe cook need a food hygiene certificate? And how will this be policed? Illka had an answer for this too.

“We visit all of our cook’s homes to try the food and to make sure they are cooking in food hygiene safe environments. We also make sure they have all the necessary documentation. If they don’t, then we will support them in obtaining it.”

I asked Illka about scaling up and how they will regulate this when they start to take on more cooks, which presumably they will. Currently they have around 50. At this stage their strategy becomes a little more opaque, Illka told me that the company will start to rely on a community head chefs – or as they call them Chiefs – to do this on their behalf.

“A Chief of a Trybe will take on larger responsibility and work to manage their local area, ensuring all the necessary arrangements for home cooks are made.”

I personally believe this is where the company might struggle. The team at Trybe is essentially transferring the responsibility to the users of the app, it will therefore be self-regulated on some level. What if someone is poisoned and the cook doesn’t have a food hygiene certificate? Who will take responsibility then? And how will Trybe be checking up on the Chiefs to ensure they’re doing their job properly? When I quizzed Illka further on the subject he didn’t really have a clear answer.

As a young company I can understand they are still finding their feet. And yet the questions that were left unanswered are some of the most obvious and important. Whenever I have spoken to friends and colleagues about Trybe, the first question everybody asks is “what if they poison someone?”

It makes me uneasy thinking about a network of home cooks, who regulate themselves and sell food to the general public. If money wasn’t involved then it might not be such a big deal, but the moment you pay for a service and make a business transaction, you expect a certain level of quality and assurance if it all goes wrong.

Saying all this, the likes of Uber had a lot of unanswered questions when it first kicked off, namely around responsibility and ownership and yet it has grown into a billion dollar company in just over 7 years. If Trybe can provide a clearer, transparent business model that answers some of the key questions, especially in terms food safety, then we might have the next Deliveroo on our hands. Until then, I’m on the firmly on the fence of the Trybe camp.

Trybe is available to download on the app store but you can also order your food online here. The service is currently limited to only a few postcodes, however the app plans to expand into other areas soon. For more information on the company or for details on how to sign up as a cook, visit their website here.

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