Why “home cooking”?

Post by on 14 Sep 2021 in About Zestii

Menus for Zestii Pop-Up or Zestii Catering packages are prepared by “home cooks”.

Zestii home cooks are neither celebrity chefs, nor even graduates from cookery school necessarily. Their kitchens do not win Michelin stars, and their dishes might not have fancy names. Zestii cooks do, however, have a passion for cooking through which they share powerful food memories, culture and stories. They are also likely to be experienced in feeding household members for years with their inherited family recipes.

Why do we care about home cooks and their food so much?

Witches in the kitchens

Mother’s and grandmother’s cooking seems, in many places, to be the primary source of what shapes people’s diet and taste palate. I am not an exception. When I departed for a-year-abroad programme, my mother gave me a handwritten notebook, full of simple guidelines for making my favourite dishes, and it still is my most treasured cooking inspiration..

Living away from home makes all of us yearn for the taste of it. I have come across many who called up to their mother to ask for a certain recipe, and made their favourite dish for the first time by themselves.

As we walk through the instructions from our mothers, we often realise the making of the dish is a more complex and devoted process than we ever imagined, though our mothers talk as if it’s the simplest task on earth! Then we start to contemplate the miracle of having every meal prepared in time (“Are our mothers witches of multitasking and time management!?”). We’d also realise mothers often don’t give you measurements like “cup of this” or “tablespoon of that”—the knowledge is all in their heads, hands and hearts! 

The unsung value of home cooking

So, can we agree that the daily act of home cooking is a kind of expertise that consists of deep knowledge and refined practices acquired through years of experience, and above all, a labour of love tirelessly provided to nurture our body and soul? 

From an economic point of view, however, home cooking is worth nothing. Commonly used indicators like GDP (gross domestic production) do not count unpaid household work of any value, because they are not for market exchange. New Zealand’s feminist economist, Dr.Marilyn Waring demonstrates in this TED talk, that this currently ignored and unpaid household labour could form “single largest sector of nations’ economy” in many places, if measured in time use surveys. 

My mother was an English teacher in high school, and loved her work. She had to give up her career after a few relocations due to my father’s work and became a stay-at-home mom. It makes me frown to think the luxury of growing up with her home cooking, which I had at the price of career sacrifice, is counted for nothing in our economic system. 

Home Cook(ing) as entrepreneurship

Are we supposed to wait around for economics to revise these measurements to be more inclusive? Zestii wants to take the lead and cast a light on the “value” of home cooking by making a marketplace for it.

We have realised that there are many home cooks whose talent and passion find nowhere to be accommodated in current food industry structures. Work options for cooks are either taking demanding shifts at someone’s restaurant, which is not suitable for all, or opening their own restaurant with full commitment and risk taking.

If there is a playing field for cooks who don’t fit these structures—where they can experiment with their own recipes, learn what sells well through pop-up events, share risk with fellow home cooks, and get proper guidance on regulations and instruments available—their existing cooking skills have the potential to be turned into micro-entrepreneurship.

Where do we find customers for this entrepreneurship? Well, evidently, modern lifestyles provide less and less room available for people to cook (while people spend more time in front of the screen, watching cooking shows!). In the name of ‘time saving’, corporations launch product after product as a solution to fill your stomach quicker, easier and more cheaply, often leading to worsening health.

Zestii wants to offer an ‘alternative’ solution to those who have no time for cooking. In the place of fast food or industrial packaged food, customers can buy home cooked meals with less preservatives, less artificial seasoning and less packaging waste. 

Your order matters

As a Zestii customer, you’ll discover a vibrant, bustling mix of food cultures present in your neighbourhood, but not (yet) in a brick-and-mortar restaurant form. An order from you will support cooks in your town to learn, gain experience and develop themselves, while bolstering their home cooking with the type of “market value” that current economics gives credit for. When you order with Zestii, you are not merely a consumer, you are an active supporter of the social, cultural, environmental and economic sustainability of your local community.