How one woman's passion for cooking led to building her own online business

Updated: Mar 26

Elena Leeming, founder of AirCook for You, shares the inspiration behind creating her business, how to turn the challenges presented by the pandemic into positive new directions by embracing life online, and success stories from the food lovers that AirCook for You has helped to inspire.

Read Elena's story of how she turned her passion for home-cooked food into a successful online business selling homemade meals and delivering virtual cooking events...

Start your own food business just like Elena of AirCook for You
Start your own food business just like Elena of AirCook for You

In 2017-18 I was working with lots of clients as a marketing consultant (helping them to launch and grow their businesses) and I felt, after watching the successes I had inspired, it was time for me to create my own business. So, alongside my marketing work, I began to search for an idea that I could craft into my own start-up, website, or service.

Elena Leeming, founder of AirCook for You, interview with BBC York
Elena Leeming, founder of AirCook for You, interview with BBC York

I've always loved hosting and cooking, but this passion did not stop at my own table. I was already contributing to a number of food blogs at the time and when travelling I was constantly on the lookout for authentic culinary experiences -- such as supper clubs with home cooks and the best local dishes of the area. This love of culinary travel helped inspire the name 'AirCook for You', as I imagined there would be a market for an Airbnb-style business for food. I was right as, after the initial idea came to me, the next step was to research and I quickly realised interest in authentic home-cooked food was gaining momentum.

Home Cooking

We began by offering supper clubs and private chef hire via a database of hand-selected chefs, home cooks and bakers on our website. Then, due to the pandemic, we had to quickly re-think our online offerings. We chose to pivot towards offering home-cooked food and baking for delivery.

This side of the business grew quickly and many of our partners on the website have shown it to be a great way to earn a living. Jane Longborough was not a trained cook but channelled her passion for home cooking and baking into delivering afternoon tea boxes, cakes and meals around York. Her CAKEGIRL business continued to grow, offering seasonal afternoon teas and assorted sweet treats using the best local ingredients, and soon she had built a successful brand and given up her day job (much to the delight of Jane and her customers around York!). This success story shows how AirCook for You can offer a great way to earn a living and the flexibility to put you in control of your passion for cooking.

In February 2021 we launched our Virtual Events. Our aim has always been to connect chefs and passionate home cooks with food lovers, so these events offer the perfect opportunity to keep the foodie community connected and sharing their talents during these unprecedented times. People miss the experience of dining out to discover new dishes, while chefs and home cooks are also longing for an appreciative audience, so we began to recruit people wishing to raise their culinary profile, boost their business and connect with foodies far and wide by using our platform. So far, we have shared a cook-along with Eoghan Mulgrew, an experimental chef in Ireland, a masterclass with cocktail connoisseur The Aperitif Guy, made tiramisù with a native Italian, and experienced two workshops with the CheeseSkool experts from France.

I can't wait to continue partnering with foodies to share deliveries, cook-alongs, bake-alongs and demonstrations. AirCook for You can prove that, far from a hindrance, more aspects of our lives moving online has highlighted just how easy it is to get involved, explore your passions, and connect with others.

Elena Leeming

I hope Elena's story has inspired you to think about starting your own online business. If, like Elena, you have a passion for cooking delicious homemade meals, cakes or bakes... why not think about starting your own home based business? Running a business from home offers you the flexibility to run your business around your own family commitments without the added expense of hiring premises, and it's easier than you think! Grab a copy of my FREE guide 101 home based food business ideas you can start today from your own home...

You can also take a look at my latest online training courses, including How to Start a Home Based Food Business...

Enjoy! Love,

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