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E-Cuisine Jobs of the Future

In San Francisco, the jobs of the future are already beginning to appear. A new company called has gone into business providing a variety of catered lunches to businesses too small to afford a chef of their own. The New York Times reports:

It’s true that these companies, which are paying engineers $100,000 or $150,000 a year, have every incentive to keep their employees at their desks working, [the company co-founder] said in an e-mail. Paying for a meal gets a firm another $50 to $70 of work from an office-bound worker during the lunch hour…

Mr. Yungst visited many offices in San Francisco, and strolled past food trucks on the city streets selling porchetta sandwiches, curries, barbecue and just about anything you can think of stuffed in a taco. This gave him an idea: if people can’t get out to the food, Mr. Yungst would bring the food to them. Mr. Lorton, who had met Mr. Yungst when they were both freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania, liked the idea and joined him.

They talked to chefs who were just starting out, many of them hoping to break into the catering business while working in communal kitchens and running pop-up restaurants, farmers’ market food stands or food trucks. The chefs lacked the time and the connections to get inside offices to sell their food.

The two partners found Feldo Nartapura outside a Mission district art gallery grilling skewers of Indonesian sate on a portable grill. Entree to the office-worker market has given him more business and spread his weekend-concentrated business over seven days.

“I have consistent work,” he said. “Before I’d only look forward to the weekend.”

In my initial post on the jobs of the future, I noted that for all the businesses the internet has rendered obsolete, it has opened up countless new opportunities for those enterprising enough to take advantage of them. It is particularly advantageous for businesses looking to serve small companies or individuals who may not have the time or resources to navigate complicated systems on their own.

Creative use of the internet has allowed a small business to connect willing buyers with willing sellers, launching a new micro-industry in the process. America is re-inventing itself one job, one company at a time, and a million stories like this one will shape the twenty first century.

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  • Richard

    Not legal here in New York. By state law, an employee who works a six hour period, beginning before 11 a.m. and ending after 2:00 p.m. must be given a paid, one-half hour lunch break.

  • WigWag

    There is nothing very “new economy” about what Professor Mead calls “e-cuisine.” This post reminds me of the ubiquitous dabbawala in Mumbai who make a living delivering and picking up tiffin (lunch containers packed with fresh food). The tiffin is collected from the workers home (sometimes in the suburbs) or often from a proprietor from whom the worker purchases the food, and is delivered in time for the mid day meal. After lunch time is over, the container is picked up and redelivered to whence it came.

    Indian immigrants have brought the tradition to several American cities including New York. I am willing to bet that Professor Mead could find a service to deliver Tiffin to and from his home in Jackson Heights although I doubt that the service has found its way to Dutchess County yet.

    While e-commerce may add another layer to this tradition, it is at least a century old in India and thrives despite the fact that many people in Mumbai still don’t own computers.

    I suspect Professor Mead may be right; serving as dabbawalas may be the new profession of choice for unemployed Americans. In India, these jobs are menial and low paying. The fact that Professor Mead relishes the idea that this represents the future of the American economy really says it all; doesn’t it?

  • Jim.

    What was that device called in Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times”? The Fillows Feeding Machine?


    @WigWag —

    People doing service jobs (from delivering food to emptying colostomy bags) deserve more dignity than people leeching off of unemployment benefits. The fact that you’re unwilling to give them any respect is a big part of the problem, not part of any solution.

    You’re keeping them down by telling them they’re entitled to be beggars, and spitting on them if they try to climb their way up the bottom rungs.

  • Bruno Behrend

    Here are some other areas that could use all kinds of new service providers…

    1) Getting to/from the airport. This is an insanely expensive proposition, whether by cab or shuttle.

    We can’t all rely on getting picked up, nor is a train the answer for enough people. With $8-12 one way fares, it isn’t all that affordable. Couple that with limited locales served by trains, and it adds to the expense.

    An enterprising person could start up a “ride club” or use social networking to schedule drop offs and pick-ups. If every person in in a “near suburb” got a flyer offering the service, it could grow by word-of-mouth.

    Of course, this is probably illegal. We must, after all, protect the cab driver and shuttle companies from “foreign competition.”

    2) Contractors waste hours going to Home Depot for shopping runs. Offering delivery is a tad outside the ‘mission’ of these stores. Start a delivery service for getting a bag of 10 1/2 copper fittings to your plumber. He can work on the PVC while waiting for the delivery.

    Smart phones and text make this easy to start. BIG value proposition for the contractor. Great job for apprentices too.

    3) See #2, but for restaurants that don’t deliver.

    Rinse and repeat.

    Fixing broken windows
    Shoveling walks
    Offering to deliver groceries

    There are millions of unfilled jobs waiting to be found, any one of which could set someone on the path to self-sufficiency.

    The governing elite don’t want this. They want dependent sheep, shepherded by a rich class of over-paid and over pensioned public employees, funded by a connected super rich that put up with the high taxation in exchange for protection from bankruptcy or competition. You know….WigWag’s crew.

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