It’s the next step in the rise of sharing economies. Instead of hiring cars or apartments, you get to reserve your own kitchen and chef.
On Plato.ph, diners are asked to book a chef of their choice, each listing their own personalized menu and approach to food on the site. The diners then visit their chosen chef at his or her kitchen for a meal prepared on the spot. But together with their meal, diners get to soak in the venue’s homey atmosphere and the cordial company of the chef and other diners who happen to book the same slot.
It’s a warm compromise for people who love to go out for meals but yearn for the intimacy of home dinners with friends and family. It’s the social dining experience, now available exclusively in Metro Manila, but with equal emphasis on each element of the meal—food, company, service, and ambiance.
“In a restaurant, you just come in, you eat, and then you leave,” Plato founder and CEO Laurence Espiritu points out. “I want people to be more immersive in the chefs behind the dishes that they eat. At the same time, I want to give them chances to meet other people.”
Espiritu recalls having been inspired by a childhood visit to Sagada, where his family had spotted a invitation for intrepid guests to partake of a full Italian meal at a log cabin house. The family that hosted the Espiritus were simply interested in having house guests. The kindness extended by this host family left a strong impression on Laurence, and guided his career path in the years to come.
Currently, Plato is less than a year old, the initial brainstorming sessions having taken place in February 2015. A small group of six led by Espiritu runs the whole site and coordinates bookings between diners and chefs, apart from scouting out chefs who would like to apply as Plato hosts. To date, there are four chefs on the Plato.ph roster. Offerings from the various set-ups include Herbed Tenderloin Steak with Marbled Potato, Spicy tuna tostada, and Cinnamon Churro ice cream sandwich.
Over the next year, Plato is looking to expand their operations with the inclusion of new chefs and cuisines, as well as creative partnerships with culinary schools and restaurants.