There are many amazing food-related classes on the UC Berkeley roster, but in my opinion, Edible Education by Professor Rosenzweig is at the top of that list. Every week, the class explores the future of food, its diverse systems, and the influences shaping the way we eat by featuring guest speakers at the front line of the food movement. Recently, the class hosted the co-founder of a company called Shef, who impressed me with the brand's mission and product so much that I was inspired to write a whole article. So, what is Shef?


Nikita Gounder

The name Shef comes from combining the words "she" and "chef" to pay homage to the founders' mothers. Celebrating the slogan "There's no taste like home," Shef aims to spread homemade food from passionate local cooks to their communities. Shef delivers these home-cooked meals of various cultures and cuisines to your door, ready to be reheated and enjoyed. This service is especially helpful for busy customers who don't have the time or the knowledge to cook but still want healthy, familiar meals. 

How it Works & Safety

As a company whose main marketing strategy is word of mouth, the onboarding process for Shef begins with an interested and curious cook who applies to become a shef. The cooks must pass an accredited food safety course and a food quality assessment once selected. Their kitchens are then assessed for food safety measures, and in regions without implemented home cooking laws, they must cook out of commercial kitchens.

Every shef is also required to wear a face mask, hairnet, and gloves, as well as use a thermometer to take their temperature before food preparation. After all the safety protocols are taken care of, Shef helps with selecting headshots, writing bios, taking pictures of food, and finalizing any other logistics needed to run a small business free of cost.

Delivery & Packaging

Nikita Gounder

Another thing that sets Shef apart from typical food delivery companies is that it does not have on-demand or hot food delivery. Customers need to order two days in advance to allow shefs to shop for the correct amount of ingredients, batch cook, cool, and pack food prior to delivery. This prevents food waste, saves on cost, and allows for manageable working hours.

The packaging consists of an insulated bag with frozen water bottles to keep the food chilled, recyclable plastic containers (eco-friendly packaging is also offered by some shefs), and labels with clear reheating instructions. The insulated bags are then delivered to your door within a specified time period.

My Experience & Thoughts

Nikita Gounder

I ordered a couple of South Indian dishes I missed eating, including chicken biryani and dal rasam. The frozen water bottles and insulated bag allowed the food to stay cold until it got to me. After snapping a few pictures, I simply followed the reheating instructions on top of the containers and had lunch!

Overall, the food was delicious, and the delivery process was straightforward. My initial concern about the logistics of eating from a random person's kitchen was relieved after learning about Shef's safety protocols. Knowing that the food was home-cooked with local ingredients made me feel better about eating "outside" food. I could taste that the food was healthier and higher quality than the typical oily fare I usually get from restaurants. The wide variety of available cuisines and food makes it highly likely that I will be ordering again.

As the co-founder emphasized in his talk, "food should be sold by people who care about food." Who better fits this description than people who cook for their families and friends daily? Try ordering something for yourself and see what you think!