Exploring a different culture via its native cuisine is often tops on a travelers' to-do list, but it isn't always easy to distinguish "authentic" from "tourist trap." One new startup, BonAppetour, is aiming to bridge that gap by offering travelers a good meal — and good company — in the home of a perfect stranger.
Here's how it works: Users can search the app to connect with "home restaurants" — AKA residential dining rooms — throughout the world, then confirm dates, specify dietary preferences or allergies, and make a payment. The app can also be used by hosts, who can create menus and, if approved, monetize their (hopefully decent) cooking skills. Guests are required to pay a 15 percent service fee on top of the price of the dining experience, which is set by the host.
Vulcan Post reports that the Singapore-based app recently received a $500,000 infusion of capital, which will be used to expand its "presence into the top culinary hubs around the world, including Rome, Paris, and Barcelona, where they already have a thriving community." BonAppetour currently features dozens of cities platform, from Buenos Aires and Bangkok to Shanghai and Stockholm (and even Houston, Las Vegas, and Seattle).
A slew of other companies are working to brand themselves as "the Airbnb of food," but none have had much success just yet. One issue facing similar apps is that not only do they need home cooks willing to participating, but they need enough diners to attend each meal to make it financially feasible. Some legal experts have also expressed concerns that serving (and charging for) meals prepared in a home falls into a legal gray area, one that could eventually be problematic for companies like BonAppetour.