This New Chat Line Lets You Text Your Favorite Chefs For Cooking Advice – Bon Appetit
DEMI’s conversational core provides fertile ground for experimentation. As a reporter I got a free pass for both Pickowicz’s Never Ending Salon and Sin’s Chinese-ish Cooking Club, which immediately felt distinct. Pickowicz conducts weekly recipe exchanges with guest hosts from the wide world of pastry, who often stick around to dispense wisdom. Sin drops niche Youtube links, advice on ordering at Cantonese restaurants, and loose recipes for everything from mapo tofu lasagna to superior broth simmered with chicken bones, pork bones, and jinhua ham. The similarities lie in the collaborative, refreshingly casual chat; a space for everyone to geek out about food without having to worry about likes, perfect lighting, or other measurements of clout.
In the era of Substack and OnlyFans, DEMI’s bet—that people will pay for increased access to food-world personalities—is a good one. But for the hosts themselves, the big draw is the like-minded community of industry professionals and enthusiastic home cooks that follow them. Where besides Sin’s Chinese-sh Cooking Club could you find three Ph.D. candidates independently writing a dissertation on ketchup?
“My hope is to cultivate a more democratic, flat, open space to talk about Chinese food because my deeply personal, very biased opinion is that a better understanding of Chinese food will make for a better world,” Sin says. “It felt like an extension of what I was doing in my Instagram DMs, which was conversing with a group of dedicated, interesting people who care about Chinese food.”
Despite DEMI’s stance as a social media alternative, the two platforms are interwoven.
Moore says the team scouted hosts based on their social presence, prioritizing creative storytelling and community building. There is no prerequisite for the hosts to have a certain size following or promote their chat on Instagram, but high engagement is an advantage: Each host (whose followings currently range from 11K–198K) advertises their community on Instagram, creating a clear pipeline from followers to DEMI members.
Sin, who started an Instagram account only last March after the pandemic hit, says that DEMI’s closed, collaborative community takes the pressure off, allowing him to start conversations on topics like healthy eating that he’d never raise on social media. “When you post on a one-directional platform, like Instagram, people presume you’re an expert in the field,” he says. “Here I can be curious and ask questions.”
DEMI has a low-stakes vibe, thanks to the inherently closed nature of subscription-based content. Instagram is free to join and users can follow whomever as long as they have a public profile; DEMI’s hosts are handpicked and each community has an entrance …….