Fourth-year Queen’s University student, Nick Amaral, wants to save you from another sub-par frozen dinner with his new app, Kouzina. Now available in London, the Toronto-based meal sharing service connects users to foodies selling fresh, home-cooked meals at affordable prices.
“Students aren’t always the greatest cooks; … you don’t always have the time to cook for yourself, and based on a student budget, it’s not always feasible to buy a quality meal,” Amaral says.
Kouzina seeks to solve this problem.
Using Kouzina app or website, customers browse and order food items, contact the seller for pickup times and then rate their experience. While delivery isn’t currently an option, Amaral foresees partnering with a third party such as UberEats in the future as a possibility.
According to Amaral, Kouzina has been operational in Toronto for nearly a month and has already accumulated approximately 160 users. He was prompted to expand the service to London, Hamilton, Guelph and Kingston after an article by CBC generated interest, especially among university towns.
While many Western students currently use food delivery apps such as UberEats and JustEat, Kouzina offers a more personal and fresh alternative to ordering in.
“Kouzina fills that gap in the market where you can get something for the price of a fast food meal,” says Amaral, adding that prices generally range from $10 to $12. The aim is that Kouzina will provide students with a more cost-effective way to eat healthy and get a comforting home-cooked meal.
While the food is home cooked and full of variety, some items have become so popular that "chefs" make large batches to keep up with demand. These dishes include fried or herbed chicken with sides of vegetables, rice and mashed potatoes as well as chocolate brownie crinkle cookies.
Amaral explains that many Kouzina cooks have experience in the culinary arts or own their own catering companies. This allows students to try something they wouldn’t ordinarily find to-go or wouldn’t make on their own.
Amaral boasts that all experiences have been positive so far but understands why some may be hesitant to try the service.
“There may be issues in any peer-to-peer marketplaces as you can see from services such as Uber and Airbnb,” says Amaral. “But I think the community really governs itself based on reviews and feedback that are all made public … even one bad review can negate someone from ordering from you.”
To promote Kouzina’s expansion, every meal that is bought or sold will receive five entries into a raffle for a $250 Metro gift card; liking the Facebook page and sharing the contest post will give a free raffle entry.
While there are some local businesses that value fresh ingredients and the quality of homemade food, Amaral says that for now, they’re trying to focus on “the truly homemade market.”
Kouzina provides a unique opportunity for people looking for a cheap, wholesome bite and for foodies seeking compensation for their culinary passion.