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Jeff Grass, CEO of HUNGRY (Photo from Amanda Riggs)

Three Penn alumni have joined forces to redefine traditional catering services and provide Philadelphia chefs a platform to share their talents.

Wharton MBA graduates are leading HUNGRY and LocalStove, two companies with a common mission, which recently merged to expand their influence in Philadelphia and introduce an efficient service that connects corporate offices to high-quality catering from local chefs. 

HUNGRY launched in Washington, D.C., where it quickly saw an increase in companies' demand for catered food. The company hopes to provide “a new way of promoting office catering that produces higher quality food, more authentic, and at a lower price point,” said 1999 Wharton MBA graduate Jeff Grass, CEO of HUNGRY. 

Looking to expand into a new city, HUNGRY recently acquired LocalStove, a start-up in Philadelphia with a similar mission. LocalStove was founded by 2016 Wharton MBA graduates Gregory Dubin and Steven Finn.  

Both companies benefit from the merger—LocalStove gets access to HUNGRY’s resources in the industry, while HUNGRY can plug in to LocalStove’s existing network in Philadelphia. This allowed for rapid growth take place and increased the ability to connect local chefs with catering opportunities.

HUNGRY’s platform saves companies an average of 33 percent over traditional caterers, while helping chefs earn three to 10 times more per hour than standard culinary jobs, HUNGRY representative Andrea Riggs said. The average cost of a catered meal in the Washington, D.C. & Philadelphia areas is at least $16 versus $12 with HUNGRY. 

Dubin said companies like HUNGRY also empower independent chefs who run their own businesses, as chefs working with HUNGRY earn higher wages than those offered by traditional restaurant jobs. Riggs said chefs working on the HUNGRY platform make approximately $75-150 per hour, which is higher than the industry average of $22 per hour listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 2016, as second-year MBA students, Dubin and Finn found a need for catering services that provided “authentic, good, high quality food that you couldn’t get anywhere,” Dubin said. He and Finn began to sell home-cooked lunches to individuals, but as the demand started to increase, they started a company with $2,500 of their own to connect local chefs with individuals. 

After growing for two years, LocalStove later adapted to the needs of its consumers and shifted its focus to connecting chefs with corporate offices that wanted catering services. 

Currently, Dubin and Finn work as advisors for HUNGRY, since the two companies' missions resonated with each other's.

Grass said that including chefs in this initiative allows chefs to cook their best recipes for clients and increase the quality of catered food.  

Finn said their new vision enables cost-efficient delivery service, allows chefs to cook for more people, and increases the authenticity and quality of the chef’s work.

Finn added that he believes facilitating the relationship between companies and chefs is indispensable for both parties.

"[We] give offices access to unbelievable food, to keep the employees happy, and to open up an opportunity to hundreds and thousands of chefs around the country who are all making amazing food.”