Hands-free Hosting

New app brings top chefs to your home for stress-free dinner parties — clean-up included

New app brings top chefs to your home for stress-free dinner parties

Craft beers along a bar
BrainDead releases its first batch of house-brewed beer on May 11. iStock
BrainDead Brewing, exterior
BrainDead opened in Deep Ellum in March. Photo courtesy of BrainDead
Craft beers along a bar
BrainDead Brewing, exterior

Forget takeout or slaving away in the kitchen for your next dinner party: A new app offers on-demand, chef-prepared, three-course meals in your home with just a few clicks. Lekker, from CEO and co-founder Joseph Francis, is designed to take the load off the host when it comes to entertaining, with vetted chefs that take care of all the steps of creating a meal, from shopping to cooking to serving.

Francis says the app came about after frustrations over hosting a dinner party.

“I had yet another dinner party where I ended up running around in circles and not able to say hey to the guests,” he says. “It was in the business context, and I said, 'I wish I could just have a chef here so I could function as a host.'”

 “It's like having a jazz artist come into your house,” Lekker founder Joseph Francis says. “You really want the performance."

Last July, Francis started testing Lekker's model: Chefs have an hour to shop for the ingredients then an hour to cook the three-course meal. The app launched in January in Houston (it recently expanded out of the loop to west Houston); it plans to expansion to Dallas next month and Austin in April.

The process for becoming a Lekker chef involves an interview with Francis' team, a background check and a live cooking test that Francis compares to Top Chef.

“We randomly pick one of the major entrees out of the current menu,” he says, “and they have to go purchase ingredients. They have one hour to shop and one hour to finish.

“We review it on five dimensions and have a team of tasters that finish out the ratings. If they're at least a four star out of five, they've passed, and they're on the team.”

App users can select a chef as close as four hours to their dinner party and choose from six seasonal three-course options. The chefs bring their own supplies, including pots and pans, and even take care of cleaning up so that hosts can focus on, well, hosting. Pricing starts at $250 for two people and goes up to $600 for six and includes all ingredients, wine, service, taxes and gratuity. 

So far, Lekker has a dozen chefs in Houston, including Ralph-Vincent Sanchez, former senior chef de partie at The Inn at Dos Brisas and Dagan Lynn, former executive chef at The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands.

Francis says that Lekker's chefs prepare all of the ingredients fresh onsite and do their shopping at either Central Market or Whole Foods. There's no blueprint or recipe they are required to follow for the meals, allowing them to create each dish in their style.

“It's like having a jazz artist come into your house,” Francis says. “You really want the performance, and we're really trying to recruit the experience of having someone in your house for three hours serving you, talking about the food, making it look great and taste great. The chefs have to do front house really well and back house perfectly.”

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Lekker is available for free in the App Store for iOS and Google Play for Android phones.