During a recent Worksmith Community Talk we heard from Andrea Vignali of Al Dente in Carlton about how well he's done out of a tricky couple of years for hospitality - and a big part in Al Dente's success was the role that Cookaborough played.
How do you explain Cookaborough to people?
L: We offer a platform that makes it simple for cooks and chefs to sell readymade food to customers for pick-up or delivery under a batch model. There are lots of ways to sell stuff online but we’re pretty confident in saying that no-one has included all the features that make Cookaborough so handy for food businesses.
N: It’s transformative for so many businesses, large and small. Ordering, communications, delivery routing, inventory, costing, data and statistics: if you want it, we’ve probably built it. And if we haven’t, you can ask us to make it next.
Are you food guys from way back?
N: Not exactly - though eating, yes! I’ve worked in marketing and branding, including 11 years at Nike, Lyndon has an accounting background, Larissa is the one that knows food having worked in food education. We came up with Cookaborough when we were neighbours. A local mum was selling food at our kids’ primary school - more or less out of the back of her car. The food was great - I’ll never forget her chicken tagine! - but we could see her getting swamped by the logistics as it became more popular.
L: We were literally standing by our front gates thinking that surely there was a software solution that would smooth out all the pain points so Amber could get on with cooking more tagines! Fast forward a few years and here’s Cookaborough.
So it started for home-based cooks?
N: It did. But we launched just before COVID and quickly saw that the model works for anyone doing prepared meals or baked goods. Food stores, chefs with side hustles, caterers, bakers, cooks with a cult product and people servicing niche communities (maybe fitness fiends or a particular cultural group) have all used Cookaborough with success.
L: At the start of the pandemic we worked with food writer Dani Valent to help a number of visa workers get their side hustles up and going. The one who created the biggest splash was Andrea Vignali, who has now turned Al Dente into a bricks-and-mortar restaurant with his best friend Davide Bonadiman. Cookaborough got him through every lockdown - not to mention looking after so many Melbourne households with cacio e pepe tortellini. Even when the restaurant is trading, Andrea still uses Cookaborough every week for delivery and pick-up orders. It’s a key pillar of his business.
You talk a lot about “batch” - what does this actually mean in the Cookaborough universe?
L: Batch is beautiful! Cookaborough works on cycles, usually weekly. The cook creates a menu and uses the platform to send an email notification to their customer database. The email links to the menu and sales platform. Orders come in and a few days later, the menu closes. The cook knows exactly what they’ve pre-sold so there is no wastage. They batch cook and distribute one day a week. From a customer’s point of view, the solution to next week’s dinners lands in their inbox every Monday, or whatever schedule the cook decides.
N: I think of it as aggregation. Cooks are in control of orders, production and delivery or pickup. It’s super convenient and streamlined and relaxing for customers too. You become part of their weekly meal solution rhythm and it is easier and more efficient for everyone.
What next? First Melbourne, then the world?
N: Ha, well maybe! We think Cookaborough is unique and getting better every week because we keep asking our users what new features they want and trying to anticipate their sticking points. There’s no reason Cookaborough couldn’t work for any food business in any country so sure, let’s see what happens. We have customers all around Australia, but we actually really love being anchored in Melbourne. It’s definitely one of the world’s great food cities and we are excited about building something that means more great Melbourne food is eaten in more Melbourne homes.
L: Melbourne is such a creative hub. We are constantly inspired by the innovative food businesses that cross our paths and we love being part of their story, watching them grow, and smoothing out some of the logistical hassles so they can do what they do best.
Find out more via: cookaborough.com. Worksmith members interested in trialing the platform or seeing a demonstration should contact Nick firstname.lastname@example.org. They also have a special introductory offer for Worksmith members.