Friends have told me that my cakes and cookies are pretty terrific. So let’s say that I’ve decided to try to cash in on my baking hobby. Do I really want to go to the bother and expense of setting up an elaborate web site to launch my fledgling effort? The answer is, not if I can avoid it.
But let’s say I want to stick my toe in the water as a food entrepreneur. BookofCooks, an Etsy-like site that allows budding caterers, personal chefs and food sellers to peddle their wares, lets you do just that. Though BookofCooks, which launched in October after a two years in beta, is still sparsely populated, it takes only a few minutes to set up a storefront. You upload a picture of your product, a pitch and contact information, and presto, you’re in business.
That’s what Jacy Cakes of New York, specializing in custom wedding and other special occasion cakes, did. The baker set up a digital shop and promoted it with an arresting come-on: designer shoes made entirely of sugar.
Who’s on BookofCooks? Caterers and personal chefs, as well as aspiring bakers and cooks who are eager to sell you their wares.
So far roughly 2,000 storefronts have been erected and several hundred transactions have been logged on BookofCooks, says site co-founder Julian Mellicovsky. For your digital shop, you can chose the free option or one of two paid premium plans which come with some additional features. The aim is to help you sell products to people in your local area.
For purchasers, the proposition isn’t entirely clear. Why would I buy, cupcakes from some random Manhattan or Brooklyn baker, when I’m tripping over established cupcakeries everywhere I turn? If I’m in the market for a personal chef—Wow, that sounds like a lovely idea!—I’m going to want to get personal references, not just pick someone totally at random off a website.
Still, if you’re catering an event or looking for someone to cook dinners for you on a regular basis, the site’s meant as a first point of contact for locating nearby talent, says Mellicovsky, who may soon add personal testimonials to lend additional credibility to vendors posting on the site.
You can search by city and type of food. Each storefront provides a description of services offered, contact information and a link to each seller’s web site for more details on products and prices. Merchants check off whether they deliver or are willing to cook at your home.
The question is, are customers looking for a Yellow Pages of local food talent? BookofCooks is hoping they’ll be fine with what boils down to little more than an online bake sale.