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Would you cook or host a meal for strangers....for a fee?


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There's a few new startups doing an Airbnb for food (including yours truly http://bigtable.co) looking to help connect chefs and diners to experience something different from the typical restaurant scene.

In some cultures, opening up your home to strangers for home cooked meals is not uncommon. In France it's called Tables d'hôtes. Curious to know if it exists in other cultures, and if it's something that could catch on in US homes?

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It's called a Comedor here in Ecuador; they typically have 3-4 tables in the living room of the house, and serve 3-course set-plate lunches. Very popular, because they're not very expensive ($2-3 for a full lunch that includes soup, main, dessert, and fresh fruit juice) and the food quality is typically over and above a "budget" commercial restaurant.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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There is one that I know of in San Diego (haven't tried it). They call it a "private supper club". I can see the appeal for some people but personnally I would rather have my friends over for dinner than a group of perfect strangers!

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I'd be too afraid of being robbed, or, afraid of people touching my antique cookbook collection to be able to do it.

Beat me to it, Lisa.

"Take your hands off the Ranhofer, and step away from the bookcases! I repeat, put the book down and step slowly away from the bookcases!" :cool:

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In France Table d'hotes is usually part of Chambre d'hotes. That is rooms for rent by the night. Its rare to see just the meal being offered.

Other, that is, than the farm meals that can be wonderful.

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Need some time to search for the links - but BryanZ had Z Kitchen going for a while while he was a student - it was a great source of entertainment here on eG.

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When we were younger we used to host students, etc, from other countries in our house in Ottawa. I always enjoyed it. We didn't get paid.... Couldn't really do it now anyway.

Along the lines of Darienne's experience, UCLA has long had a "Dinner for 12 Strangers" program. Guests include students, faculty, alumni. Generally hosted by alumni. I attended and also helped host and thought it was fun. No fees involved.

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My wife and I have been running NY Bite Club www.nybiteclub.com for the last 6 or 7 years. Maybe 8. We have regular dinners in our home as well as cater wedding events. We have not had a negative experience in all the years we have been doing this.

“I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted" JK

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On our recent travels in North Carolina we discovered that it seems more common than it used to for smaller low-key places, especially if they are out of the way, to offer dinner for a fee. We stayed at two places in the mountains that offered this; in neither would it have been very convenient to drag ourselves out for dinner after we finally located them.

The first place turned out to be owned by a retired engineer and his wife, who was younger and French. She cooked us an astounding dinner for a very low price--one of the best meals I've had in years. Her breakfast was just as great. The second place was really in the middle of nowhere with a farm attached. We had a lunch and two dinners as well as included breakfasts, all using locally sourced or homegrown foods. (These people had start-of-season asparagus growing out of their ears.) They charged us almost nothing, considering the bounty. This second place happened to have three WWOOFers staying with them, and these 20-somethings cooked up a storm. In both places we ate with our hosts and it was very fun.

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In France Table d'hotes is usually part of Chambre d'hotes. That is rooms for rent by the night. Its rare to see just the meal being offered.

Other, that is, than the farm meals that can be wonderful.

Wouldn't that be like the American Bed & Breakfast? Now there's a service I'd could and would like to do. As long as I only had to worry about the food part.

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There's a few new startups doing an Airbnb for food (including yours truly http://bigtable.co) looking to help connect chefs and diners to experience something different from the typical restaurant scene.

In some cultures, opening up your home to strangers for home cooked meals is not uncommon. In France it's called Tables d'hôtes. Curious to know if it exists in other cultures, and if it's something that could catch on in US homes?

There are a number of "supper clubs" in Southern California which work that way. Nothing really new and some people claim it to be one of the "next new trend"

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I think I'd do it. When I moved away from the part-time catering I was doing to be able to dedicate more time to the restaurant where I work, I had catering customers asking if I'd do something like that. I semi-considered it but never actually did it. The main thing that stopped me is my house is kinda small and not really suited to it for other reasons (her cats, for example). But, if I had the right venue to do it, I'd very seriously think about it.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I would love to do that if I wasn't so short on time. I don't have anything worth stealing :raz:. I am usually preparing food for one, so I don't do anything very involved; this would be a nice opportunity to get back into cooking. However, under current circumstances the guests would have to sit on the floor, or perhaps my bed, and eat off their knees, so it's a no for now...

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WWOOFers?

World Wide Organization of Organic Farms. I think. The organization hooks up young people wanting to work on a farm with farm owners who need some help. The Wwoofers get free food and board in exchange for working on the farm. These particular kids were terrific; smart and really entertaining. They cooked the lunches and helped with dinners as well. Seems like win-win for all involved as long as they like each other. My daughter had a friend from CA who worked on a farm in NZ last year, same program I believe.

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In some cultures, opening up your home to strangers for home cooked meals is not uncommon. In France it's called Tables d'hôtes. Curious to know if it exists in other cultures, and if it's something that could catch on in US homes?

This is not uncommon in Hong Kong. Some people cook and serve meals in their homes. Bookings are generally required. Menu is usually chefs choice or with limited choices. Haven't been to one myself though.
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You asked about the meals served at farms in France.

They're called 'ferme Auberge' and there are lots of them.

http://www.bienvenue-a-la-ferme.com/recherche/index/restauration/2643/?q=&ferme_auberge=1. (click on the link at the top 'Voir les résultats sur la cart.) This is a link to one association of them. As you can see they're all over France.

Each one is different and usually they feature local products & cooking. One near us, for example, featured roast sanglier (wild pig). This farmer had fenced in a few acres and kept wild pigs there. We had soup, a starter, the main course, some cheese and dessert plus unlimited wine. The cost was reasonable.

Mostly they will be family style with everyone at one large table. Great for one's France and, usually, a lot of fun.

If on vacation in France I'd urge anyone to try one.

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