Airbnb, Inc. is an online marketplace for arranging or offering lodging, primarily homestays, or tourism experiences. The company does not own any of the real estate listings, nor does it host events; it acts as a broker, receiving commissions from each booking.
Founded: August 2008, San Francisco, California, United States.
Airbnb is on a quest to change the way people travel. Not only has the service revolutionized the way traveler’s book accommodations, but it’s also shaken up the game when it comes to experiences. The company has already introduced several experience options including tours and animal experiences, and now, it’s offering hands-on cooking experiences around the world. And it wants to bring a few chefs along to try it out for themselves.
This week, Airbnb announced its new Cooking section, a new category of bookable experiences that “unlock the hidden culinary traditions of families all around the world.”
Inside the category, guests can find exciting culinary opportunities like learning grandmas’ recipes and traditional Uzbek home-cooking. But that’s not all. The category already has more than 3,000 unique recipes from over 75 countries that people can try at home.
“Through Airbnb Cooking Experiences, we are presenting a new way to understand culture through food,” the company said in a statement. “Unlike typical cooking classes, which can feel intimidating or time-consuming, at the heart of every experience is a human connection; people coming together to make and share a meal.”
The experience hosts range from local families, farmers, pastry cooks and more, all in an effort to show off how their foods relate to their home region.
“Ever since the very first guests traveled with Airbnb, we have realized that sharing a meal is the key that unlocks culture and fosters connection,” Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO and Co-Founder said in a statement. “Through Airbnb Cooking Experiences, we want to bring back the tradition of people coming together to make and share meals, and through this help preserve unique recipes that are shared within family kitchens around the world.”
According to Airbnb, it’s attempting to “protect the personal nature of each recipe” by vetting each experience against guidelines inspired by Slow Food, a grassroots organization whose mission is to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions.
“Through this vetting process, we have verified that each host of an Airbnb Experience communicates the unique essence of every dish through their personal stories and has proven deep knowledge of the heritage of the cuisine that they share,” it said.
“It’s really encouraging that Airbnb looked to us for guidance on how to help people preserve their family recipes and become quality and sustainability advocates,” Paolo Di Croce, Slow Food Secretary General, said in a statement. “Airbnb Cooking Experiences represent a great opportunity to spread our urgent call for sustainability standards and food biodiversity protection across the globe, reaching new audiences and inspiring change in the entire food and tourism sector. We have a long-term commitment to ensure that travel experiences remain authentic and help travelers learn about local communities and raise awareness about sustainable food practices.”
But wait, there’s more.
To celebrate the launch of Airbnb Cooking Experiences, Airbnb is calling on the would-be chefs of the world to apply (or nominate their favorite home cook) for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Italy.
In Italy, the winning cooks will get the chance to refine their family recipes alongside some seriously talented experts. They’ll also have the chance to be featured in an Airbnb cookbook, planned for 2020.
According to Airbnb, the top 100 applicants will get to study alongside experts including chef David Chang and his mom, Sherri, during one of the four, specially-organized five-day courses at Slow Food’s University of Gastronomic Sciences, located within a UNESCO world heritage site in Pollenzo, Northern Italy.
In Italy, winners will also get to take part in hands-on lessons from one of the most booked hosts on the platform, Nonna Nerina, and learn about her and her family’s love of pasta-making.
To enter or nominate a chef head over to airbnb.com/cooking. There, you can submit a personal essay on why the nominee’s passion for cooking and their family recipe makes them the perfect fit. Applications are now open and will close at 11:59 pm EST on Dec. 23, 2019. Winners will be selected by a panel of judges including representatives of Airbnb, Slow Food, and the University of Gastronomic Sciences.