I could sense Ian Moore’s excitement when he messaged me out of the blue last August, to share that he had just raised funds for his own company. Having worn a good few hats in his time – editor-in-chief of VICE Denmark, creative director at LADBible, COO of Copenhagen distillery Empirical Spirits – I wondered what industry he had chosen to start up in. “Food + marketplace + tech,” he explained. “OnlyFans for chefs. OnlyPans. OnlyFlans.”
This was the genesis of Demi, a chef-led community platform – almost a social network – where customers and fans pay a monthly fee to enter into exclusive culinary group chats. OnlyFans was Moore’s first, and I think light-hearted, point of comparison, but the parallels are self-evident: on Demi, as with OnlyFans, Substack, Patreon and other subscription services, the chefs act as “content creators”, selling their expertise and their perspective, rather than selling their food. In turn, subscribers can ask questions to their favoured chefs, show off their own creations, and speak to other like-minded foodies.
“The pandemic didn’t prompt the idea,” Moore says, “but it did expedite it”. His eureka moment came while cooking a meal for his in-laws, and texting his friend – a former head chef at three Michelin starred Maaemo in Oslo – for guidance on his presentation. “I thought, ‘there has to be something in this’,” he says. Turning away from the idea of a one-to-one, “ask a chef” kind of service, Moore thought about how best to recreate that open, friendly restaurant atmosphere he’d enjoyed in pre-Covid Copenhagen, where you could just as easily ask the chef as you could the person sitting next to you about the dish you were eating.
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