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Chef-to-Consumer Marketplace Shef Announces Plans to Expand Nationwide After $73.5 Million Series B
New funding will enable Shef to help thousands more local cooks turn their culinary talents into a small business
SAN FRANCISCO, March 1, 2023-- Shef, the nation's leading chef-to-consumer marketplace, today announced plans to expand nationwide after closing a $73.5 million Series B funding round last year, bringing the company's total funding to date to more than $100 million. The largest investment ever in a chef-to-consumer marketplace, the funding will help Shef connect talented local cooks anywhere in the United States with customers looking for healthy, high-quality food options prepared by members of their community.
Shef's previously closed Series B round was led by CRV, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz and Amex Ventures. The round included $7M in venture debt. Other investors include celebrity chefs Andrew Zimmern (Bizarre Foods), Carla Hall (The Chew, Top Chef), Kristen Kish (Top Chef, Iron Chef) and Nyesha Arrington (Next Level Chef); athletes Russell Westbrook, Odell Beckham Jr. and Candace Parker; comedians Jimmy O. Yang and Lilly Singh; entrepreneur and best-selling author Tony Robbins; Visa CFO Vasant Prabhu; AngelList founder Naval Ravikant; Poshmark founder Manish Chandra; and former Airbnb executives Belinda Johnson and Joe Zadeh. They join a long list of existing investors including Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom, Aarón Sánchez, Andre Iguodala, and Alexis Ohanian.
Shef launched in the Bay Area in 2019 and currently operates in 11 states plus Washington, D.C., reaching 70 million people. Since its launch four years ago, thousands of local, food safety certified "shefs" – 85% of whom are women and 80% people of color – have joined the marketplace. Many are immigrants or refugees, representing nearly 100 countries around the world. Cooks on Shef have earned tens of millions of dollars of net income to support themselves and their families.
"Finding Shef has changed my life here," said Shef Adriana, a Nicaraguan refugee who was forced to flee her beloved home country and successful Managua restaurant four years ago. "My dream is to open a restaurant again someday. Until then, Shef enables me to share my cherished family recipes with customers and earn much-needed income. It makes me so happy to give my customers a taste of where I come from, hopefully reminding them of their own mother's or grandmother's cooking too."
The new funding will enable Shef to help thousands more local cooks turn their culinary talents into a small business for the first time, while meeting the needs of busy consumers looking for healthy, high-quality meal options. As of 2022, all 50 states now allow for the sale of certain types of homemade food, with many states clarifying laws to embrace and regulate the practice. Starting today, talented cooks anywhere across the country can apply to sell their homemade specialties on Shef. Shef will also be investing in key product developments, including new preference and customization features that will deliver a uniquely personalized experience.
"With our plans to bring Shef nationwide this year, we're focused on enabling anyone, anywhere to become a food entrepreneur – something that would have been a true economic lifeline for both Alvin's and my family when they immigrated to the U.S.," said Shef co-founder and CEO Joey Grassia. "Demand for Shef has grown dramatically over the past four years – both from those interested in cooking on the platform to earn much-needed income, as well as consumers looking for more affordable, healthy ways to feed their families. We're thrilled to be able to meet this demand and fill a significant gap in the market between home cooking and takeout."
"Shef is not only incubating the next generation of American food entrepreneurs and future restaurant owners, they're unlocking an entirely new category of how we feed our families," said Saar Gur, general partner at CRV. "Neighbors feeding neighbors is already a widely accepted tradition around the world. Now talented local cooks can simultaneously pursue their passion while also providing their families with another meaningful source of income by providing homemade dishes to those nearby, something that's even more relevant given the tough economy. We're proud to support a company that puts the interests of shefs front and center while meeting a huge consumer demand for more healthy, high-quality food options in their community."
"At American Express, we're all about shopping small and supporting the next generation of small business owners," said Kevin Tsang, Managing Director for Consumer Services Investments at Amex Ventures. "Shef has turned starting a small food business – something previously cost-prohibitive for most – into a reality for thousands of people across the country. In supporting Shef, we're honored to invest in a majority female and people of color marketplace that's dramatically lowering the price of entry into the food industry."
Beyond supporting the fast-growing community of shefs across the country, Shef is also committed to giving back – both to non-profits and causes in places where Shef operates, as well as around the world. Shef and its customers have donated more than 10,000 meals to those in need. Shef also established an initiative to help Afghan refugees in the wake of the 2021 crisis, expediting the applications of any Afghan refugee interested in cooking on Shef and setting aside $3,500 per person to help pay for training, supplies, and marketing support.
Shef is a chef-to-consumer marketplace that enables talented local cooks to connect directly with customers in their community and earn a meaningful income selling authentic, homemade dishes. Shef was founded by Joey Grassia and Alvin Salehi, both sons of immigrants whose parents struggled to make ends meet after arriving in the U.S. The "she" in Shef is in honor of their mothers who worked incredibly hard to support and nourish their families and communities. Shef is their way of bringing a community-based food system to life, where anyone can gain access to a meaningful income and take care of their neighbors, one meal at a time. The service is currently available in several markets across the United States, including San Francisco, New York, New Jersey, Seattle, Chicago, Houston, Austin, Boston, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Atlanta, with plans to expand nationwide this year. To order food from a local cook in your area, or for more information on how to become a shef, visit www.shef.com.
Amy Dudley, Head of Communications, Shef