There can be no doubt that food delivery has become seriously big business in the last few years. Indeed, the UK delivery market alone was worth £8.4bn in 2019, up 18% year-on-year, with Brits consuming an impressive 849 million delivered meals.
As an evolution of the delivery market, virtual restaurants with ghost (or dark) kitchens have started to enter into mainstream business models, with the arrival of delivery-only brands a noteworthy step for the booming sector.
With total focus on delivery (and the potential for very little CAPEX), delivery-only is an exciting new frontier, with Taster one such company to run with the burgeoning concept.
Launched by former Deliveroo executive Anton Soulier in June 2017, Taster has grown rapidly in the last 12 months, going from 15 kitchens to 40 in the last year, spread across London, Brighton, Madrid and Paris.
Designed specifically for partnerships with delivery operators such as Just Eat and Deliveroo, Taster’s aim is to bring “restaurant quality meals” direct to customers’ doors within a maximum time of 20 minutes from ordering online, with their own-brand menu lineup created through a combination of collaborations with leading chefs and a translation of the latest consumer eating trends.
Brands from scratch
Last year Taster delivered 500,000 meals across its three European markets, with the company starting with three brands: Mission Saigon (Vietnamese street food), O Ke Kai (Hawaiian poke bowls) and Out-Fry (Korean fried chicken).
“I set up Taster because I felt the experience of delivery could be better quality,” Soulier tells Food Spark.
“I wanted to create a brand completely designed for the delivery market and to bring a bit more diversity into the space by really staying away from pizza and sushi.
“We really create every brand from scratch – we create the identity, we create the menu because we have experience of what’s going to work in delivery, and we always partner up with chefs who have experience in their own fields.”
The potential of this collaborative own-brand concept has not been lost on the big players, with Deliveroo only last month announcing plans to commit £1m towards producing new healthy eating own-brands (in collaboration with celebrity nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert) ripe for the delivery market, with “Dream Burger” to be their first foray.
Taster's new triumvirate
This week, Taster added another three new brands to their portfolio: Stacksando, A Burgers and Take-Out-Thai, with the latter’s regional Thai street food menu devised through Taster’s work with former Som Saa chef John Chantarasak.
“All our brands have an underlying Asian theme, so we wanted to create a Thai concept, but we were bored of green curry and wanted to come up with something else, which is how we came across John,” says Soulier.
“He’s super innovative in his approach to Thai food.”
Dishes on Take-Out-Thai’s menu include Laab Woonsen Isaan (spicy glass noodles with chopped meat or tofu and Asian herbs) and Pad Krapao (minced beef or tofu stir-fried with chilli, house-made seasoning sauce and holy basil leaf, topped with a crispy hen’s egg).
Meanwhile, keen to introduce a Japanese concept to Taster, Soulier approached Nanban owner and MasterChef winner Tim Anderson to help create Stacksando.
“The Stacksando sandwich is actually like a sandwich you can find in a convenience store in Japan, so it’s the perfect dish for delivery,” explains Soulier.
“Tim is very ahead of the curve when it comes to Japanese street food so, like John, he was the perfect match for this type of project.”
Stacksando’s menu will offer a rolling selection of katsu sandos including the tonkatsu stacksando (British pork loin coated in crispy katsu and topped with tonkatsu sauce, umami mustard mayo, and shredded hispi cabbage on Japanese milk bread).
There will also be yuzu-pickled veg, and fries with a choice of three salt blends (seaweed salt, garlic miso salt or spicy katsu curry salt).
Lastly, A Burgers will offer plant-based burgers livened up by sauces from natural condiments producer Dr Will’s, such as the Sriracha Chilli Burger - a grilled Moving Mountains patty with Dr Will’s sriracha mayo.
“We always wanted to create a burger brand and I think now launching a meat burger brand would not make sense in 2020,” says Soulier.
“We really wanted to stand out and work with UK suppliers, so partnering up with Dr Will’s we came up with A Burgers – one of the best vegan burger concepts in London.”