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A gourmet version of Blue Apron minus the subscription

TechCrunch TechCrunch 14/06/2016 Megan Rose Dickey

I don’t know about you, but I suck at cooking — and that’s despite the fact that my parents sent me to some bougie cooking camp when I was younger. These days, as an “adult,” I would have to use my own money (gasp!) to take a cooking class, which, depending on where I decided to go, could cost at least $100.

That’s where SaltedEats, an on-demand ingredients service, comes in. SaltedEats is a new product from Salted, the subscription-based site that teaches people how to cook. Salted members pay $10 a month for access to an online cooking school that aims to feel like a private cooking class taught by over 200 top chefs around the country. To date, Salted has thousands of paying members since launching about 18 months ago.

“The most requested feature we’ve had is ingredients,” Salted CEO Jeffrey Appelbaum told me. “It doesn’t really make sense to say now go to Whole Foods and figure it out. We were never really interested in building a Blue Apron competitor, but there is something interesting about this hyper-local, ground-up approach where we launch market by market.”

Unlike Blue Apron, SaltedEats uses 100% locally-sourced ingredients and is also doing away with subscriptions. So, even though its how-to-cook videos are subscription based, anyone who wants to order ingredients doesn’t have to subscribe to anything.

“Along with thinking that subscriptions don’t necessarily make sense given how frequently schedules fluctuate,” Appelbaum said, “I’ve thrown away as many Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and Plated meals as I’ve been able to consume.”

You’re also not locked into to buying meals for at least two people — a decision that makes margins a bit tougher for the company, but one that results in potentially less waste, especially if you eat alone most of the time.

Each dish you order comes with the appropriate video — featuring the chefs themselves — on how to make it. In exchange for letting Salted shoot the instructional video, chefs get to use the assets on their own sites and social media. With SaltedEats, however, the company plans to introduce a revenue share model with the chefs whose recipes SaltedEats ends up sourcing ingredients for.

SaltedEats reminds me of Munchery’s relatively new product line of ready-to-cook meals, which are also based on recipes from popular restaurants. The main differentiators, however, are the focus on education as well the 100% locally-sourced ingredients. With Munchery, the company simply tries to get ingredients from as many local, organic sources as possible.

On average, meals take 30 minutes to make. Right now, Salted Eats is only available for delivery on Thursdays in Los Angeles, but will start daily deliveries this fall. This week in LA, one of the dishes offered is “Sea Urchin Spaghetti with Toasted Breadcrumbs” by Chef Ori Menashe of Bestia, which is considered to be one of the top restaurants in the area.

Salted Eats officially launched last week and wants to operate in 10 cities within a year. To date, Salted has raised more than $500,000 from a group of angel investors and small funds in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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