A little while ago we told you about Japan-based startup Kitchhike, which matches travelers with local hosts  who prepare home cooked meals for them. It’s an intriguing and rare service, so I was pretty surprised when I heard about Tadaku, which is also based in Tokyo, also matching travelers with local hosts/cooks.
I asked Tadaku co-founders Tao Romera Martinez and Trent McBride about how their service might be different than Kitchhike . They explained that the biggest difference is that Tadaku is actually about cooking local food together, rather than just eating at someone’s home as if it were a restaurant. Trent adds:
We believe the ‘cooking together’ aspect is a vital part, for a few reasons:
- It’s a much better way to learn about the local cuisine, as the guests actually cook it themselves.
- The practical aspect of cooking together creates a warmer atmosphere; doing activities ‘together’ brings people closer and ensures the travelers feel less like they are intruding into the host’s home.
- Cooking together, rather than just eating, allows the guest to discover many aspects of local culture, producing more opportunities for conversation between host and guest.
So what kind of local menu offerings are available on Tadaku? The team informs me that they just added a host family in Nagano who proposes to cook up the local delicacy of grasshoppers and bee larvae. That’s certainly a dish that would be hard for you to find on your own . Another interesting dish travelers to Japan might want to try cooking is Chanko Nabe, a meal famously eaten by sumo wrestlers.
As for its business model, Tadaku will take a 12% commission of the fee paid by the guest. And from there, Tadaku will pay the host.
Since Tadaku’s official launch back in October when they added their first hosts in Tokyo, Rome and Bangkok, they’ve had interest from hosts all over the world, in places like Morocco, Tunisia, Argentina, India, Portugal, Hungary and Spain. Trent further elaborates on their progress in these initial weeks:
We’re getting a lot of general excitement from those that hear about us, and are currently also spending a lot of time on website optimization and experimentation with different strategies regarding sign ups. […] We’re also in conversations with a number of food bloggers, administrators of food and recipe websites etc. for potential collaboration agreements.
The progress of specialized travel services like Kitchhike, Meetrip (which was acquired earlier in the month), and now Tadaku will be interesting to watch. I’m still not certain that I’d call this any sort of startup trend, but they are all interesting variants on traditional online travel services. And I hope they can find a sustainable niche among travel enthusiasts, especially those coming to Japan.