An ASU alumna's new app is helping foodies bring culinary experiences to their home kitchens.
Roza Ferdowsmakan, an ASU English alumna, created Bites.mobi to allow users to connect with a variety of chefs who specialize in different cuisines. App users can reserve chefs to come to their houses during events and cook in-home meals for them.
Ferdowsmakan said she's been working in technology law for 20 years, and she’s always wanted to create technology of her own that would have a positive impact on society, which she said she does by tapping into local chefs and ingredients and using sustainable methods.
“I love technology so much that I wanted to create my own piece of it," she said. “An ethos-driven app that is designed to do good on many levels of society.”
Ferdowsmakan said her experience growing up on farms connected her with the way food is grown. She wanted to find a way to bring that connection to everyone, she said.
“When I was thirteen I started working on my uncle’s farm in Logan, Utah, and so that was my first connection with sustainability and connection to the earth,” she said. “So, really, this app is about sustainability and how we care and connect with the earth and grow things in clean and healthy way.”
Ferdowsmakan said the app supports professional chefs, culinary students and home cooks, as well as the local farmers chefs get their produce from.
“These foodies connect with chefs in the community, whether they are professional chefs, culinary students or home cooks,” she said. “Then that culinary talent turns out and supports local farms and brings those fresh ingredients inside people’s homes and cook from scratch.”
Alicia Marseille, director of ASU's Resource Innovation and Solutions Network Incubator, which has publicly recognized Ferdowsmakan's app as a leader in sustainability in the past, said food sustainability involves limiting or repurposing waste.
“At the RISN Incubator we focus on coming up with ways to prevent or repurpose waste,” she said. “Roza’s platform for her app is revolved around reducing food waste.”
Ferdowsmakan said the app is focused on supporting the local economy and moving away from the global commercialization of food and toward fresh and nutritious local produce.
“It is really about being a part of the solution toward localized sourcing and moving away from globalized food producing,” she said. “Because if you can support local growers by buying stuff from them, it will help the economy and help the community grow toward localized food sourcing.”
David Duarte, executive chef and owner of Finestre Modern Gastronomy in Phoenix, said he signed up to be a professional chef on Bites because he loves interacting with guests and teaching them about the meals he makes.
“At my restaurant I speak and interact with my guests, but when you’re in someone’s home they feel in control and they become more relaxed and engaging,” he said. “Some even like to help out and I get to show them how to plate dishes or something they have never done before.”
Duarte said the use of local farms and produce with this service is in line with what he does at his restaurant. The app helps create consumer demand for this local goods, he said.
“My restaurant is a no-waste restaurant, so we source locally, using some of the same farms and farmers on the app, and I get to see what I want first and then hand pick what I like,” he said.