Airbnb — the company that made sleeping in strangers' beds seem like a reasonable alternative to a hotel — is testing out a new foray into the "Sharing Economy" market it helped create: Dining experiences. Not content with raking in billions of dollars with its apartment-sharing scheme, Airbnb wants to start hooking you up with an intimate dining experience... cooked by strangers!
Here's how it'll work: Someone who really likes to cook (and make a little extra money on the side) tells Airbnb what's on the menu and the price they're going to charge. Strangers then book a reservation and show up at the strangers home and hope they don't get poisoned by some nut-job who doesn't know how to cook shellfish properly. Airbnb takes a cut and everyone's happy! (Except those who are in the hospital getting their stomach pumped.)
All kidding aside, Airbnb does provide pretty accurate, crowdsourced ratings and reviews, so we'd expect the really bad chefs would be weeded out quickly. Plus, in many cities, "Supper Clubs" are a popular meal-time experience for true foodies, so there's already a market for this type of food-ertainment. It can be a fun way to experience different cuisine, outside of a stuffy restaurant atmosphere. Yes, a truly "underground" (read: hipster) experience.
Salmonella for Dessert?
But consider this: When health inspectors were invited into a "typical" home, unrelated to this Airbnb endeavor, they found that the conditions were deplorable, earning the homeowner a "C" grade. (For those of you in cities without a grading system, there are two grades higher than "C": "B" and "A," with "A" being the best and having the least chance of giving you E. coli.) Would you trust a meal prepared in a home that has no real health codes to live up to, or inspection grades posted?
Cleanliness aside, the idea of paying to be stuck at a stranger's dinner party isn't everyone's cup of tea &mdsash; sometimes it's hard enough when it's free. Still, we can't help but imagine the riches we could earn by throwing our own. The one catch: We don't know how to cook. How much would you pay for a 3-course "cereal tasting"? $50? $100? We'll even throw in a souvenir bowl!
What do you guys think? Is paying to eat in someone else's home weird, or is it no different from eating out at a restaurant? Let us know how culinarily adventurous you are in the comments below.