• A food courier en route to deliver meals in Beijing.

A food courier en route to deliver meals in Beijing. (Photo : Getty Images)

The sharing economy is proving to be evolving very fast in China through different mobile apps. One of those is an app that makes kitchen communal and revolutionizes Chinese lunchtime.

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"Home Cook" is a mobile app from a 2-year-old startup. It works by searching for hosts who are willing to share their home-cooked meals within a 3-kilometer radius of the customer. Customers can then either pick up their meals from the host, or have them delivered right at their doorsteps.

Tang Wanli, the CEO of Home Cook, said: “There is firm demand for personalized home-cooked meals as they are regarded healthy. Most white-collar workers are often too busy or too tired to cook for themselves.”

There are more than 2 million customers registered on the mobile app, 60,000 of whom are registered hosts. The service is currently available in five cities, including Shanghai and Beijing.

Hosts who use the app to share their home-cooked meals are required to register themselves with their real names, official IDs as well as a health certificate for food safety assurance. Once registered, their cooking skills, menu offerings as well as the condition of their kitchen are all assessed to ensure that they pass regulations.

Home Cook has partnered with the People’s Insurance Company of China, Ltd. to ensure the quality of every meal ordered by customers through their mobile app. This also ensures that disputes will be handled professionally.

The hosts mostly consist of retirees and housewives, and the Home Cook app gives them the opportunity to make money and meet new people.

Li Pengfei, a 26-year-old software programmer who is a Home Cook user, said: “It's quite convenient. The meal was delivered within an hour. Most importantly, the dishes tasted like the food made by my mom.”

Although it is continuing to grow, there are issues in legal gray areas. Liu Xuwei, an analyst who works at Analysis International in Beijing, said: “The platform and the hosts do not have necessary licenses for working in the catering industry. The legal risk is far greater than [that of] the ride-hailing apps.”