In Phoenix, Arizona, a mobile app is working to connect chefs, eaters, and urban farmers to make good food accessible to more people. Bites | Eat With Your Tribe is a community-driven marketplace linking foodies to local chefs to plan in-home, farm-to-table dining experiences in the foodie’s own kitchen.
“We want to normalize farm-to-table for everyone, everywhere. That’s why there’s no tip, no tax, no service charge, and it’s always BYOB… so that more people can experience farm-to-table in the intimacy of their own home, as humble or as luxurious as their home might be,” says Roza Ferdowsmakan, Founder of Bites.
The cooks represent a wide range of professional backgrounds, including fine dining, home cooking, and independent eateries, as well as 40 different world cuisines. Eaters search for cooks on the app indicating the preferred date, skill level, cuisine type, and budget. The ability to curate a communal dining experience, Ferdowsmakan tells Food Tank, makes Bites stand out to foodies from most farm-to-table apps.
Bites also encourages cooks to source ingredients from local urban farms. “We offer transparency in terms of where the fresh ingredients come from, as each cook’s profile indicates which growers and grocers they buy from,” Ferdowsmakan tells Food Tank. “We really want to give visibility to urban farms, micro-farms, co-ops, backyard gardens, and community gardens.” By shortening the food value chain, says Ferdowsmakan, Bites can help move the needle from globalized, commercial food production to localized, sustainably sourced food.
“We wanted to create a platform that empowers those who feed us and those who can serve as the powerful glue between the growers and the eaters,” Ferdowsmakan tells Food Tank. “[We] offer a wide selection of cooking skill levels and… lend support for students and independent eateries—mom and pop restaurants that lend character to our cities and sense of placemaking.”
Bites’ grassroots-driven interface also enables cooks to go beyond farm-to-table dining services. “They can offer cooking classes in your own kitchen, drop-off meals, meal-prep services, and also interactive classroom lunches for kids in schools,” says Ferdowsmakan.
Since launching the app in August 2019, Ferdowsmakan works with local partners including Arizona State University to increase Bites’ outreach and help people understand how the platform can support the food system—connecting eaters from all backgrounds with cooks of diverse cultures, sourcing ingredients from local urban growers. “I’m interested in leveraging the power of technology to beneficially impact people and the planet,” Ferdowsmakan tells Food Tank. “Bites is a tool to inspire, empower, and engage people in changing the food system.”