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Food is big in NYC, and we aren’t just talking about the portions. As one of biggest culinary capitals in the world, New York is a food obsessed city. From Reubens and pizza slices to three Michelin star restaurants and possibly the greatest ethnic variety available anywhere on the planet, food is big business in the Big Apple.
It’s no surprise then that Silicon Alley startups are getting in on the act. From new delivery services to new protein and vertical farms, here are 16 food (and drink) startups that are helping the citizens of New York, and beyond, get their eat on:
Maple is a food delivery startup backed by celebrity Momofoku chef David Chang. The startup delivers gourmet restaurant quality meals direct to your home, with recipes designed specifically to withstand being packed up and delivered by bike. With other big chef names such as Mark Ladner and Brooks Headley of Del Posto and Dan Kluger of ABC Kitchen helping with the menu, the service focusses on delivering top quality food in very a short timeframe.
Blue Apron https://www.blueapron.com
Blue Apron offers a subscription service that delivers recipes with all the ingredients needed to cook them in just the right amount required so consumers can cook up delicious food with minimal fuss. The big daddy of the New York food startup scene, Blue Apron received an obese $2 billion USD valuation last year. With the company reportedly selling 3 million meals a month at $10 in June 2015, they seem to be tapping into a healthy appetite for easy home cooking.
A similar recipe and ingredient delivery service to Blue Apron, Plated send everything you need to cook meals at home so you can master your cheffing skills without having to go shopping or research recipes. With over 1,000 recipes and a supporting app, Plated focuses on sourcing ecologically sound and healthy ingredients and packaging. Think sustainable fish and low carbon recycled packaging. The focus is on quality produce here, with meals generally costing a bit more than Blue Apron.
Yet another meal kit startup (clearly cash rich, time poor New Yorkers are a good market), Hungyroot focuses on healthy, vegetable-based foods that are ready to eat in 7 minutes. With a focus on healthy, easy to prepare food such as carrot noodles and cauliflower couscous, Hungryroot is tapping into the growing interest in healthy eating. The startup is getting pretty innovative with its ingredients as well. Almond chickpea cookie dough or black bean brownies anyone?
Bluecart is an ordering platform that makes it simple for restaurants to order everything they need from all their suppliers in one go. The app and website connects restaurant and vendors together and allows restaurants to put in one order from multiple suppliers. Vendors and sales reps can use the the platform to manage their relationships with different restaurants and offer custom pricing. It’s a convenient service that makes all parties’ lives that little bit easier, especially handy when you’re busy serving hungry diners.
Brooklyn based CaterCow is a catering marketplace that connects customers directly with over 1000 local restaurants, chefs and caterers. From office catering to a wedding or film shoot, you can organise all your food needs through CaterCow. Get starters from a local restaurant, rent a food truck for a day or find someone to do that mid-summer hog roast you’ve been yearning for. As well as NYC, the service also now covers Palo Alto, San Francisco and Washington DC.
Not your average protein bars, Exo’s protein comes from cricket flour… With a soft, slightly nutty flavour, cricket flour is apparently the most environmentally friendly source of protein. Unnatural sugar, gluten, grains, dairy, soy and artificial preservative free, as well as paleo diet friendly, Exo is also pretty healthy. With insects long being touted as a future food, here’s a way to actually eat some regularly.
Food52 is a flourishing online food community. Created by two food writers, the website features everything from mouthwatering recipes to impeccably short food porn photos and showcases of different ingredients. With a strong community aspect, many of the recipes are contributed by readers and there are numerous discussions, the website also sells food and lifestyle related products. Think of it as an updated, community-led Martha Stewart replacement for the digital generation.
Spoon University https://spoonuniversity.com/
Spoon University is an online website aimed at helping millennials learn about food and cooking. The site features recipes, health stories, reviews of restaurants and BuzzFeed style quizzes and listicles. Founded by two 24 year-old Northwestern University students, the pair have since relocated to NYC after snagging funding. With 2 million unique monthly visitors in 2015 the site is clearly doing something very right. Even the young have to eat.
Mercato connects customers with speciality grocery stores. The websites offers an online marketplace for shops selling speciality food, with local and national delivery options available. It’s a great way to connect time poor shoppers with niche small shops and offer them valuable new way to get sales. On top of that it’s a startup that’s creating communities and celebrating small independent specialist shops. Full marks to them.
Minibar is an on-demand alcoholic drinks delivery service. The site connects liquor stores with customers who can order their booze from the app and get it delivered between 30 and 60 minutes later. It’s a great way to conveniently order alcohol for an event. The service operates in 15 cities across the US and even has a subscription option, perfect for regular friday work beers, or for lazy alcoholics…
Mouth Foods http://www.mouth.com
Mouth Foods sells ‘indie’ foods. Featuring over 700 products from 300 food small producers in over 30 states, you can order everything from maple bacon lollipops to pickled watermelon. There are also gift packs and subscriptions services. The website is a one stop-shop for artisan and gourmet food products. If you’re in New York they also have a brick and mortar store as well. Mm, tasty.
Farmigo is an online farmers market. The website allows customers to order produce from a range of local farmers and producers and pick up their orders from local food communities such as nearby offices or schools. It’s a great system that connects farmers directly with consumers, cutting out the cost of middlemen and giving people access to the freshest, seasonal produce while also helping producers get new customers.
Okay so this one is technically just outside of NYC but is worthy of inclusion. AeroFarms operates the world’s largest vertical farm in a 69,000-square-foot warehouse in Newark. Using vertical modular stacking systems the company uses a aeroponic growing system that can grow produce without soil or sun in pretty much any locations. WIth no pesticides used and food grown for local consumption, the system can be a sustainable and efficient way to feed cities and could well be the future of farming.
Mordern Meadow http://www.modernmeadow.com
Modern Meadow develops slaughter-free meat. The Brooklyn based Biotech startup creates animal protein and leather from cultured cells that require significantly less land, water, energy and chemicals than traditionally raised cattle. While the technology is at an early stage and still quite experimental, the product could potentially be created by 3d printing. With meat demand increasing all over the world, it’s a very interesting space to be in and a sector that looks set to grow.
Journees delivers wine education to the masses. Launched with the help of a Kickstarter campaign last year, the service offers instruction in wine and other useful topics for restaurant industry pros. The company’s headquarters in NYC features sessions with top wine sommeliers and importers. Online access to the classes is available for $18 per year or for $365 members can attend all classes in person as well as use the space for co-working.