SAN FRANCISCO, June 2, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Shef, a platform that enables cooks to sell homemade meals to their local communities, announced today it has raised $20M in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz with participation from Craft Ventures, M13, Y Combinator, and individuals including Padma Lakshmi, Tiffany Haddish, Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom, chef Aarón Sánchez and NBA player Andre Iguodala. Jeff Jordan, General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz and former CEO of OpenTable, led the deal and is joining the company’s board.
Shef plans to use the funds to support expansion into new markets and champion the adoption of safe home cooking laws to help its community of talented cooks, who are primarily people of color, gain access to meaningful economic opportunities. The company is also announcing the hire of Danielle Merida, former General Counsel of TaskRabbit, to collaborate even further with policymakers across the country. 44 new bills related to home cooking have already been introduced in 29 states across the US in the last year alone, as legislators continue to seek new avenues to employment after the devastating effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the food and restaurant industries.
Shef was founded in 2019 by first-generation Americans Alvin Salehi, a former Senior Technology Advisor at the Obama White House and founder of Code.gov, and Joey Grassia, a former Facebook employee and 2x food entrepreneur.
"Having the support of Jeff Jordan and this incredible team of mission-driven investors means the world to us. Across the country, our waitlist of potential shefs has grown to more than 12,000 people. This funding will allow us to expand access to our platform so we can create meaningful opportunities for these talented cooks," said Grassia.
"We’ve had the privilege of partnering with lawmakers across the United States to introduce well-informed legislation that will put people back to work and revitalize our local economies," said Salehi. "We’re excited to continue advocating for the safe expansion of home cooking laws to help underrepresented communities land on their feet after the pandemic."
Catalyzed by COVID-19, the closure of restaurants has driven more and more people to Shef’s platform. Over 85 percent of the individuals cooking on Shef today identify as people of color, who statistically have been hit the hardest by the economic effects of the pandemic.
"Shef has built a powerful new platform that brings value to both sides of the dining marketplace – enabling shefs to pursue their passion and earn meaningful income without worrying about the headaches or logistics of restaurant management, while giving local customers access to a wide variety of authentic cuisine delivered to their door," said Jeff Jordan, General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz. "Alvin and Joey are committed to reducing the friction of the industry and built a way for talented Shefs to achieve meaningful economic empowerment doing the thing that they love. I’m proud to lead this round and join this mission-driven team of entrepreneurs."
Shef’s community of cooks come from a variety of backgrounds and create dishes similar to what they’d serve to their own family and friends using fresh, wholesome ingredients. Customers can order from their favorite shefs and enjoy authentic, homemade cuisine that they may not otherwise have access to in their neighborhoods.
"I used to work in the restaurant business. When COVID-19 hit us, Shef saved me. It has been over a year now and I am doing so well on Shef. It has changed my life and impacted my future," said San Francisco-based Shef Saowanee Flores. "As a Thai woman who never traveled, I had a hard time assimilating to the US. I am now able to share my authentic recipes and passion for cooking while making money at the same time. I feel so lucky to have found this opportunity."
"As a woman and chef of color, being a part of Shef has helped me acquire a meaningful income as a single parent due to the financial hardship and lost wages brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic," added Shef Mona Eleuthere, a Caribbean immigrant based in New York. "Shef has created an avenue to help enrich the lives of others within my community through a gentle smile behind the bright red mask and a hearty home-cooked meal made with love."
Shef is a platform that enables cooks to sell homemade meals to their local communities. Founded in 2019 by first generation Americans Alvin Salehi and Joey Grassia, Shef creates opportunities for anyone to make a meaningful income from home. Shef is currently available in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Seattle, Chicago, Houston, Austin and Boston, with plans to further expand in the coming months. To order food from a local shef in your area, or for more information on how to become a shef, visit www.shef.com.
Erin First, Brick Lane Public Relations