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CookinGenie, a local business bringing fine dining to the comfort of home, sees growth during pandemic

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Posted at 3:10 PM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-23 22:06:43-05

CLEVELAND — A local business says it has both quality and convenience with its service, offering Northeast Ohioans a chance to blend fine dining and home cooking without leaving their homes.

Like every foodservice business at the onset of the pandemic, CookinGenie had to shut down because of the pandemic just months after launching in December 2019.

Then, co-founder Abhijit Ganguly said he found a silver lining.

"We did re-emergence from the lockdown and we found that many of our customers told us that this was the safer way for them to celebrate private functions, anniversaries, birthday parties, etc.”

When the cold winter months hit and restaurants struggled with maintaining outdoor seating, Gangly saw an opportunity to bring the sense of going out to the comfort of one’s home.

"We have grown month over month over the last four or five months,” she said.

Here's how it works: the "Genies" are chefs with a range of skills, from enthusiastic home cooks to professionals with culinary training. Everyone has to pass a taste test and a background check. Every chef creates their own menu and cooks it at a customer's home.

"It's my own food, I get to cook what I want to cook,” said Jared Kent, CookinGenie chef.

Each chef does the shopping and it’s priced per serving.

"They love the idea that they can actually present their art, almost,” said CookinGenie cofounder Saba Drabu. “The price on the platform is inclusive, all inclusive, so there are no hidden prices, no hidden fees, no membership fees, nothing. If people want to do it one time, fine, no problem."

Katarine Dempsey, who is a repeat customer, said she used the service at least eight to 10 times.

"Nothing is going to replace - for us - going to a nice restaurant and going out, right?” said Dempsey, who still likes the perks of the service.

"They come in, they do all the work, they clean the kitchen. You can spend your time on yourself, it's a nice treat,” she said.

Dempsey said CookinGenie can open up a whole new world of cuisine to families who never dined outside their neighborhoods — think Peruvian, French or Middle Eastern Cuisine.

"We have some very nice restaurants here, but we don't have all types of restaurants here,” she said.

Kent said he expects business to grow even more once the pandemic ends and he could make an even better living than he did in a restaurant kitchen.

"It actually, I think will be much better than working in a restaurant because the restaurant wages just aren't very good," he said.

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