Meal App in Beijing



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It’s eleven thirty am in Beijing; nerves are frayed. It’s nearly lunchtime, and finding food is all that matters.

Whether it’s take out or eating in, the lunch break is a vital part of the work day in China . . . more important, some say, than any meeting.

Meng Xun and Wong Ching have no time to leave their dance studio: so they order out with an app.

They can enjoy home-cooked meals delivered by women living in the neighborhood.

Ms Jia lives just a few streets away. And she receives the order.

Six different dishes have been ordered, all of which she will prepare in her kitchen at home.

She’s been retired for eight years; not unusual in a country where women often finish working at the age of 50.

Ms. Jia: “My daughter says I should do this as long as I can — she loves my food. She’s married, has her own home now, and I’m alone here.

So that’s how I’m able to cook meals for others, prepare food for my customers.

So that everyone can try it.”

Stinky tofu, a la Mama Jia. Sometimes she prepares more than 40 meals a day, just as mother would make.

And inexpensive too: just three to five euros a box.

Most internet startups are located in the upmarket district of Wang Jing Park in Beijing. This was where the home cooked app was launched 18 months ago.

In the beginning, the app designers simply asked housewives in supermarkets whether they would like to cook for them.

Now there are more than 15,000 private chefs cooking dishes from their home provinces — and more than a million customers who want to eat them.

Tan Jing, Home Cooking App Founder: “Uber and Airbnb are apps where individuals offer a service. And these were started in America.

But as for food, no one thinks more about it than the Chinese: food is very important to us.

So it’s not surprising that an app, where individuals offer meals cooked in their homes, was conceived in China.

We’re proud of it.”

Lunch is served.

Everything is tested thoroughly, from menus to hygiene to the ingredients. Every day, at least ten dishes from private cooks are tested by the app’s founder, Tan Jing.

Tan Jing: “This is always how we do it. We all come from different regions in China. So different meals are ordered and everyone can try it. This is the best part of our job.”

A key part of the app’s success is Beijing’s army of food couriers. They deliver around the clock.

But for Ms. Jia, it’s the personal touch: she delivers the food herself. On her electric scooter, she is quick to reach her customers.

Ms. Jia: “The food’s here.”

In the dance studio, everyone knows her. The young dancers order food from her at least once a week.

Ms. Jia delivers good food to happy customers. Squid in garlic leaves and stinky tofu — just two of the favorites.

Wu Meng Xun: “The developers must have had us in mind when they created this app. We’ve moved away, but what we order makes us feel closer to home.”

Liu Jia Ni: “I order food from her so often, that she knows exactly how I like my food prepared. She knows I don’t like it made with too much oil.

She’s just like my mother.”

A short break in the afternoon and Ms. Jia reads the feedback from her clients: five stars all around.

Jia Xiu Lan: “The food was hot and tasty. She brought it personally. It reminded me of the food my mother made.”

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Noodles. Are food and meals an integral part of Chinese culture or just to live and survive?

Rice. The dancers and dance instructors at the dance studio order their lunches on the meal app. Why do they order their lunch on an app?

Cabbage, Napa Cabbage. The meals are prepared by chefs cooking in restaurants. Is this right or wrong?

Potato, Sweet Potato. Is Ms. Jia often very busy? Does she cook to support her family?

White Radish. The meal app is a huge enterprise. Is this correct or incorrect?

Eggplant. Can anyone start cooking and selling dishes immediately?

Bitter Melon. Do all the cooks personally deliver their meals to their customers?

Cucumber. What is the main customer sentiment about the delivered meals?
Beans, Soybean Sprouts. There is a home-cooked meal app for my city. Yes or no?

Bamboo Shoots. Would a home-cooked meal and delivery service become popular in your city?

Bok Choy. Do you and your friends prefer restaurant, home-cooked meals or it depends?

Broccoli. What will happen in the future?

Peanuts. Everyone is happy and thrilled about home-cooked meal apps. What do you think?

Lotus (root). My friends and I have ideas for an app or startup.

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