Prepared meals are fresh and always the go-to option to save yourself from ordering a pizza. Maryam Asmat, founder, HouseCook, has joined the food service league, and her mission to provide fresh, delicious, and good quality food. The unique selling point is that the food is cooked fresh, with the homemade recipe, and the meat is Halal!
What does HouseCook do, what kind of products/services do you provide?
HouseCook provides fresh and delicious Pakistani/Indian weekly food delivery (Halal). The menu changes every week and always includes a variety of dishes. We cook authentic cuisine using minimal oil and do not use any artificial ingredients.
Brief description of your background.
I am a young, minority woman entrepreneur who grew up in Lahore, Pakistan and my family immigrated to Canada when I was very young. Later I graduated from the University of Western Ontario, majoring in marketing and finance. As far as I remember, my mother has always been very passionate about cooking.
In her free time, she would watch cooking videos until she falls asleep with the phone in her hand. She makes the best food in the world!. I had to move away from home to university, and all I missed was my mom’s fresh and delicious food. However, any weekend I would visit home, instead of a suitcase filled with clothes and books, I would take back a suitcase full of mom-cooked food back to the university. Despite ordering from different restaurants, I could not find any food as delicious as what she cooked.
When did you think of starting a business, how did you accomplish it?
My parents worked tirelessly and sacrificed their dreams to make sure ours come true. After I graduated and both of my siblings began university, I decided to support my mom in every way I could to make her dream of becoming a chef come true. I worked very hard to build a website, planned the menus, and built an online presence. I distributed flyers for- HouseCook to anyone I knew who didn’t have time to cook. I told my mom that she would only have to cook and I will manage the marketing. The first week, only two people ordered, one of them being my coworker, and we generated $20 in profit.
It was amazing! My husband, siblings, and father all supported us tremendously. Every week after that, we had a new menu. People who began ordering continued ordering from us, and slowly our database of customers grew. As our demand grew, my aunt and uncle immigrated to Canada a few years prior decided to join HouseCook. They lived in Waterloo, and because of them, we were able to expand further. We all would meet in our kitchen in Toronto, cook together, and later deliver. HouseCook now delivers across various cities in Ontario.
How has COVID affected your business?
HouseCook began in December 2019, and as the lockdown started in March 2020, we decided to pause all our deliveries temporarily. We were closed for two months as we had to ensure food delivery with all safety and hygiene protocols in place. That affected us as many of our customers were unable to continue receiving their weekly deliveries. After reopening, it took us a while to get back to normal. We are still affected as customers at home during the lockdown have ample time to cook themselves. Individuals are also wary of ordering food due to COVID despite all protocols being strictly followed.
Has your team adapted to the pandemic measures?
We are very strict about following all safety and hygiene protocols as our team, and customers’ safety is our top priority. All personal protection equipment, including masks and hair nets, is always worn. Everyone washes their hands as soon as they enter the kitchen, and before they touch any ingredients, even if gloves are worn, hands must be washed first.
What are your plans for HouseCook?
We hope to continue serving people across Canada, and beyond so everyone has access to fresh, delicious, and homestyle authentic food. Having a busy schedule or not cooking should not stop anyone from having homestyle food every day. As someone who has a hectic schedule, I know it is effortless to compromise on your diet, particularly when you don’t know how to cook traditional food. Moreover, one of HouseCook’s fundamental near-term goals is to continue giving back to the community. In February 2021, we donated meals to families in need every week. In the future, as the company grows, we hope to multiply such initiatives.
Students living away from home, busy families, young adults, seniors, and many other people can now enjoy fresh and delicious food within the comfort of their home.
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Author: Sadaf Zehra, Toronto, Canada. If you have stories to share kindly email: – firstname.lastname@example.org