We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research, but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links.Advertising DisclosureThis is a user-oriented comparison website, and we need to cover hosting and content costs, as well as make a profit. The costs are covered from referral fees from the vendors we feature. Affiliate link compensation does not affect reviews but might affect listicle pages. On these pages, vendors are ranked based on the reviewer’s examination of the service but also taking into account feedback from users and our commercial agreements with service providers. This website tries to cover important meal, coffee and pet food delivery services but we can’t cover all of the solutions that are out there. Information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
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Author Katarina Todorovic
Katarina Todorovic Writer
Updated on Apr 13th, 2024
Fact checked by Deborah Leigh

CHEFIN 2024: Art Of Dining America!

Introducing Petko Petkov, the visionary Co-Founder and CEO at CHEFIN, where culinary dreams meet unparalleled excellence. In a world where dining experiences are not merely meals but moments to cherish, Petko's passion for gastronomic brilliance drives the ethos of CHEFIN: to redefine the art of dining with a satisfaction guarantee. Imagine a culinary journey where every bite is a revelation, every dish a masterpiece, and every moment a celebration of taste. That's precisely what CHEFIN promises – an experience so extraordinary that if it doesn't surpass your expectations, your money is returned. But what truly sets CHEFIN apart? Safety and security are paramount. Each chef undergoes rigorous screening processes to ensure they meet the highest standards. Stringent food safety protocols provide peace of mind, while payments are securely held until after your event. Embark with Delivery Rank on a culinary adventure where excellence is not just a promise but a guarantee. Discover more about the unmatched excellence of CHEFIN and elevate your dining experience to new heights.

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind starting CHEFIN and your journey as the co-founder and CEO of the company?

The journey has been nothing but rocky! We have changed our founding team 2x times, built tech & thrown in the bin 4x times and gone through a few legal cases and some audits to top it all! A rollercoaster of an experience, not to mention the downturn of COVID-19 that halted the whole hospitality industry and dropped our revenues 95%. 

What has stood out for me throughout the journey is the sheer determination & grid needed for the team to keep everything afloat. It is not an individual's task but rather a team's one. The days one of us felt like quitting, another co-founder would pick up and motivate us to continue. It's the enormous mental pressure that sits on founders that one prepares you for! And it is too much to handle alone whilst being punched in the face all day! 

Our inspiration for CHEFIN came from the world of Chefs - the insight information was Chefs hated their jobs, hated hospo, and hated restaurants but loved serving & cooking food. Loved interactions with customers & loved making money. The hospitality industry was broken! It was meant to stand for hospitable service - for being a warm, happy environment where guests and staff enjoy themselves whilst sharing a delightful meal! However the reality was totally different - stress & disappointment at every corner!  

It was a no-brainer to come up with a solution that connects diners who want amazing food with chefs who love cooking! 

Early on we did research on the types of marketplace we wanted to build and worked out through testing and pivoting we wanted to be an Uber-style marketplace - providing bookable service delivered by marketplace suppliers instead of an Airbnb-style marketplace providing booking selection to the consumer. 

Why and how did we get there? Not as easy as it sounds, we tested chefs submitting their menus and pricing themselves and had a 3-course menu with fish, steak and dessert prices from $60-250 dollars in a variety of offers! That did not make any sense and was confusing the consumers pushing them to buy the cheapest option and booking out 1 chef instead of re-distributing the workload across. Quickly we got that fixed and then moved on to menu planning & design features. Saying that though it’s a never-ending journey and we are constantly working on improving our software!

CHEFIN is all about helping chefs achieve their true potential. What unique qualities or skills do you look for in the chefs you work with to provide world-class private dining experiences?

For a marketplace to succeed you need to build a community - foster it and support it to flourish. One of the side-effects of community is its self-moderation. In the early days, we had no idea who we needed to so we kept the top of the funnel wide open. This meant we were getting anyone trying to sign up and be part of CHEFIN. That enabled us to go through lots of profiles, develop a methodology to audit the chefs and create a strong & tight onboarding process. We had to develop a screening methodology with a very harsh test to enter - we call it the Chef Audition. 

A Chef Audition is the ultimate test to perform - just like a theater play it tests the cooking skills of the Chef plus their theatrical performance skills - how do they behave, what do they do, what do they say etc. 

After completing a few hundred of these and savoring the food & experiences we developed a practice with a very strict sign-up process that filters on its own the talent we need. The core 5 principles we identified were: 1. commitment to quality, 2. technical skills & education, 3. personality, 4. taste comes first, 5. consistency day in and out! 

The key is really to identify what goes wrong, what can you do to mitigate it and how you build this up within the community. 

What we have found out is that today the community is self-moderating. We get referrals from existing chefs to others they meet that they feel fit the profile by applying a filter of the 5 principles. Then when chefs join we use the existing community to review & filter their profiles before they get approved. It is a 2 sided approval process - you got to fit the community and the community got to fit you in!

Building a marketplace for private chefs and dining experiences must come with its challenges. What are some of the most significant challenges you've encountered, and how have you overcome them?

Being a start-up founder I am used to challenges day in and out - it really never ends! Some are however more significant than others and have taken serious amounts of time on my end. 

I would say there are some very difficult challenges at each stage of your business. Currently, we are facing a significant struggle with the entree in Brazil - it is a very different market, a different language that I do not speak, and demographics & culture are different. What we are doing at the moment is probing the market quite deeply to understand the culture on both sides - consumers & chefs. 

We have found some great similarities in the American lifestyle, both eating habits-wise and also culture-wise. The proximity of the 2 countries and the aspirations Brazilians have on the USA lifestyle play a pivotal role in their behaviors & attitudes - in particular towards fine dining! 

If you asked a year ago what my biggest challenge was, it would have been cracking the code of the USA market! That was a long almost 20-month journey where we tested endless scenarios and set-ups and pretty much failed at all of these at once! Until we discovered the key - credibility! Having credibility pretty much equals trust. With no trust there is no purchase! 

We cracked that by identifying a small business that had credibility and local presence and purchased it. That gave us an initial boost in trust and we started converting leads. From there it’s just an avalanche process of one after another accepting & delivering bookings and continuing the traction. 

Really big challenge we had a few years ago was developing a sustainable business model. For me personally business sustainability is the key #1 important factor in growing business. Needless to say, the reason why we have lived longer than the majority of our competitors is the fact that we have a profitable and cash flow positive business model - the pinnacle of sustainable business! 

How we achieved it you may ask? Was definitely not easy! We tested around 100 different pricing strategies, from both sides of the market, plus explored every possible margin opportunity across the product chain. It was really all about testing and failing along the way. Some of the items we tested - running commercial kitchens, running pop up restaurants, utilizing vacant real estate, collaborations with existing restaurants, takeovers of club houses, supply chain management, transportation logistics, equipment own-to-rent …. And many more! At one point of time in mid-2019 we had around 10 of these models - the last cohort of testing, going on at the same time and we almost ran out of cash and burned out! Almost! Was a nightmare of a year, massive growth, total lack of time and incredible learning. 

In the end we created a very clean, lean and amazing business model that none of our competitors offers! 

We are a pure play platform - providing augmented customer Booking process with empowered chef supply side.

CHEFIN has experience from thousands of events. What have been some of the most surprising or unexpected moments during these events that stand out in your memory?

Ah there are many :) I’ve personally attended almost 1000 events! Pretty much every single event when we first started until it was too big for me to go to every single one and then we split all founders and staff had to attend an event so until mid 2019 every single booking was covered by one of CHEFIN employees - monitoring, collecting feedback, writing down learnings, experiencing the real raw “experience” provided by chefs! Fast forward and now we only attend random inspection events to take photos, check quality, ensure logistics are organized properly and touch base with important customers to make them feel special. It’s more of quality assurance coupled with customer loyalty than anything else. 

The current feedback loop and 3x side independent reviews we get on each booking give us a 360 lateral wide view of what’s happening - can say it is even better than attending in person as you can’t always see and hear everything! 

Some of the most interesting experiences we’ve had include shipping 3 containers of food to China - 1 with 3000 oysters, 2nd with wagyu, and 3rd with seafood for a 500 pax event. 

Another interesting one was managing & executing the annual Jewish Community Association dinner in Sydney for 1632 guests - don’t ask me why this number, it apparently has a significant meaning. That event was nuts, I did 10,000 steps across the night supervising and managing logistics and we served guests on the table (no plates, no cutlery) purely eating with hands and hanging desserts from the roof dripping down … it was amazing! 

A personal favorite of mine is a dinner we hosted for a corporate client of ours in Brisbane’s Newstead House - $1,500 per person dinner - it was the epitome of luxury! The Customers were so impressed it was unbelievable - a historic tour with canapés and champagne in the underground museum of the house plus a dinner straight on the 200y old historic table was such a stunning experience! 

Most recently I was super excited about our launch event in Brazil - a delightful intimate dinner with a Brazilian Churrasco master in São Paulo! Just seeing the happy faces of the customers & the satisfied chef declaring the meals means so much - a true product market fit on the spot!

Looking ahead, what are your vision and goals for CHEFIN in the next five years, and how do you plan to continue innovating in the private dining space?

Next 5 years are truly exciting! We are just starting! Our expansion is accelerating! It took us from 2015-20198 to expand into Melbourne, then 2020/1 Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Hobart …. And then 2022-3 to enter the US market and Asia - HK! 2024 is Brazil followed by Canada, Singapore and potentially UAE! We are on a roll of global domination and will continue pushing the boundaries! No plans yet for 2025 but can assure you it will be big! 

The platform continues to develop and improve. We’ve got tons of features scheduled for development ranging from small improvements to totally new engagement features. 

We are testing 3 new products this year as well ranging from hospitality learning leaps to menu design algorithms and white labeled booking platforms. The times are truly exciting and the hospitality industry will benefit greatly. To be honest what I am most excited about is our ability to give back and contribute to the overall wellbeing of Chefs & other hospitality business owners. 

Often startups start in the blue ocean space thinking disruption is the only way! This is however a very white and black approach that means totally isolating yourself from the existing ecosystem and having to build a new ecosystem around your business. To give you a TIP - Every business needs an ecosystem to be part of. Either joining an existing ecosystem or building a brand new! The latter may seem exciting but is a total nightmare and takes too long - time is our most precious resource and no matter the amount of funding you get you can’t buy enough of it! 

If you would like to find out more about CHEFIN, visit https://chefin.com/

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We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research, but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links.Advertising DisclosureThis is a user-oriented comparison website, and we need to cover hosting and content costs, as well as make a profit. The costs are covered from referral fees from the vendors we feature. Affiliate link compensation does not affect reviews but might affect listicle pages. On these pages, vendors are ranked based on the reviewer’s examination of the service but also taking into account feedback from users and our commercial agreements with service providers. This website tries to cover important meal, coffee and pet food delivery services but we can’t cover all of the solutions that are out there. Information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
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