CHARLOTTETOWN - Dwitya Rulhadi loves to cook – and those who know her love when she cooks for them.
"But working in a kitchen is hard. It's a hard job," she said.
For the founders of Tenchef, Rulhadi is a key ingredient in a recipe they've been cooking up since last year. The goal of Wahid Choudhury and Vaughn Murphy's pilot business is to find the tastes across P.E.I. that aren't getting to customers' mouths and provide it to them.
"We all know people at home or in our family or our neighbourhood who cook really well," Murphy said.
While Rulhadi's peers praise her for her homemade Indonesian food, the lengthy preparation required for the traditionally spicey meals and the constant moving around in a kitchen can be a lot to handle, she said.
Plus, if she were to start her own restaurant, she'd have to handle the logistics of running a business as well.
"I don't want to cook for my own restaurant, but I want to introduce my Indonesian cuisine to many people here on the Island."
Tenchef, which currently operates out of BioFoodTech in Charlottetown, is enabling Rulhadi to try her hand at commercial cooking while it takes care of the logistics.
"When someone opens a restaurant they're responsible for everything," Murphy said. "What we do is remove all those barriers."
On average, Choudhury estimates that opening a restaurant would require a capital investment of at least $100,000. On top of that, a restaurant owner would need to license and staff the restaurant, as well as to attain the necessary administration and marketing skills to keep it afloat, he said.
"There's too many loops to go through."
For Choudhury and Murphy, it allows them to offer a wide variety of cultured tastes to P.E.I. throughout the week via delivery – Indonesian, Indian, Mexican, you-name-it. Tenchef currently has about 12 chefs who are sharing their homemade recipes on a four-week rotation.
In a way, it's sort of like how venues would book a musician for an event. But instead of playing instruments, they cook meals, and instead of fresh tunes it's fresh flavours.
"We are thinking of these as events," Choudhury said, "because, if you have good food, it will sell."
Tenchef will be operating at least until the end of the year, by which point it will have enough data to determine whether the business model is sustainable enough to continue or not, Choudhury said.
"Our goal is to change the restaurant industry."
Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian