Underkitchen: the delivery of international dishes prepared by students

Underkitchen is an innovative startup with a social value whose mission is to transform Italian hotel schools into laboratories of international cuisine. An idea that came to four professionals who decided to make themselves available to schools and hotel students to create a delivery service at affordable prices with international cuisine prepared in school laboratories and delivered with the cold chain. We met two of the founding members and saw the students at work in the training school of the In-Presa Social Cooperative in Carate Brianza, an institute that deals with vocational training, study support and job support aimed at children in a situation of early school leaving and risk of social difficulties. But let’s go in order.

How it works and what we find on Underkitchen

Underkitchen has a peculiarity: that of a website and an app designed as if they were an airport board, with flights for different cities. First you choose your city of residence from the board, then you choose the destination and discover the dish that matches that destination: for example Vietnamese chicken, Creole cuisine, Lebanese chickpea cream, Mexican chili, goulash Hungarian and so on. Or you can opt for a “world tour”, which is a selection of different dishes from different culinary traditions. After placing your order, the package arrives home within 24 hours (it contains five generous portions, with an average price of less than 5 euros per portion) in a “freezer box”, i.e. in a cold box. At that point you can decide whether to eat the dishes immediately, regenerate the bags immediately in the microwave or in boiling water or whether to store the dishes in the refrigerator (up to several weeks). The food – we tried it ourselves – is very good and looks freshly cooked. At the moment, the production takes place in the Multicenter School of Pozzuoli and the goal, as the managing director Carlo Schiavone admits, is to be able to all the Italian cities, but also those countries (such as Switzerland, for example) where the ‘Cost of food is very high. Among the interesting ideas present in the app, there is also the “auction” function that allows you to bid on expired dishes and the possibility of leaving audio reviews (a little like it works with voice messages on Whatsapp).

Technology in the kitchen

The food prepared in the hotel kitchen laboratories is immediately chilled, vacuum packed, labeled and prepared to be delivered home. The philosophy of Underkitchen is to spread the culture of “slaughter” in schools and restaurants, also in an anti-waste key: “Ten years ago – explains another of the partners, Giorgio Scarselli, restaurateur, ambassador of taste and communication manager of the startup – in a professional kitchen there were no high-tech tools, vacuum was used to the maximum. By cooling the products immediately after their preparation to -18 degrees – he explains – the organoleptic characteristics are not affected and the products can also be optimally consumed after a while. We – he continues – like to talk about artisanal frozen food”.

The value of Underkitchen for schools

The spread of international culture, giving young people ideas other than the classical ones, by interpreting them foreign cuisine and above all creating a delivery system, different from what other competitors do, are the main reasons for the creation of this startup, explains Carlo Schiavone once again. The idea of ​​transforming a kitchen workshop into a real one dark kitchen, that is, a kitchen that works exclusively with the delivery of food, came to the founders by observing the exercises of the hotel schools, in which a lot of cooking is often done and part of the food is removed. In this way, waste is avoided, school laboratories are transformed into businesses, new professional skills are created (such as the food delivery strategist, the chief expert in the preparation of dishes exclusively dedicated to the world of home delivery) and the children are taught to cook differently. Dishes like no other, as confirmed by Chiara Frigeni, teacher of the training school of the Social Cooperative In-Presa di Carate Brianza: “Projects like this allow global cuisine to enter schools, which are not often addressed during normal programming gives the young people the opportunity to be employed with more know-how than others; they also give the schools the opportunity to become companies in the true sense of the word, and thus be able to offer themselves on the market”.

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