The world of online dining is about to get a “food-first” facelift after Cambridge-based Chef Nightly launched its app on Tuesday.
Instead of offering a long list of local grub spots, Chef Nightly makes suggestions based on your preferences, with an emphasis on the dish itself.
“We’ve curated lists of meals from the best-ranked kitchens in the area almost like Netflix for food,” CEO Michael Shelley said. “We provide a visual of specific meal preferences and a profile on the ingredients, flavor and nutritional info. Next time around, we use your past choices to offer suggestions.”
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Each kitchen is selected by Chef Nightly, based on quality of food and service, to prepare and deliver each dish. A built-in rating system also helps ensure continued quality.
“Small business owners know their neighborhoods really well and we leverage them and rely on their judgment. They tell us what’s popular, what isn’t, we talk with the chefs, we talk to everyone in the kitchen and dive into the meal,” Sheeley said. “Every restaurant owner knows their customers and needs a way to reach the people. They know the clients and the area; our job is to reach them.”
“The whole concept of the app is data driven. If sushi is popular in the neighborhood, it’ll be at the top of the list,” Sheeley added.
Let’s say you’re not up on sushi lingo and want to know what has raw meat in it, what has crab or what flavor something you’ve never heard of is packing. The meal profiles create a roadmap for curious consumers.
“Sometimes you just don’t want to comb through a whole menu like other delivery sites have,” GM Leigh Cassidy said. “Sometimes it’s overwhelming when you’re tired at the end of the day to go line by line through a menu.”
Providing a list of the ingredients along with a picture of the meal is something like pointing to the pictures in a diner.
“The pictures bring you in, but then you get to dig deeper and see what is in the order,” Cassidy said. “The suggestions section doesn’t aim to dissuade you from getting your normal order. We know that people are creatures of habit, but we can say ‘if you liked this, you ought to try this.’”
Chef Nightly currently has about 20,000 clients and works with more than 50 restaurants in the city. It is available on iPhone and Android in the Boston area.