Digital restaurants and virtual brands… Taster are focused on the future of food. Founder Anton Soulier explains!

I started Taster three years ago last Sunday (28th June), so it feels like an especially good time for a look back at what an incredible adventure the past three years has been, and to explain what inspired me to launch our first delivery-only restaurant brand in Paris, back in 2017.

I was working at Deliveroo in 2016. I’d joined the company a few years earlier (as the 7th employee, in fact!) and by this time I was Deputy General Manager for the delivery platform in France. While in this role I was responsible for spearheading the launch of “Rooboxes”, now known as Deliveroo Editions. These were some of the first delivery-only kitchens ever created, and while working on this project I spotted what I felt was an even bigger opportunity: creating food brands entirely dedicated to delivery that centre around the customer, focusing on quality, variety, sustainability and speed of service. Since then, my ambition has been to create exciting online restaurant brands that create an emotional connection with customers, and earn their trust.

So instead of investing in pricey rent for high footfall locations and the extensive setup costs of fitting out a traditional bricks-and-mortar restaurant, I decided to build Taster around the product itself and the customer experience, using kitchens set up to achieve the highest standard of delivery food at an accessible price.

How many of us have ordered a takeaway only for it to arrive cold, or soggy, or with something missing? It’s a depressingly normal occurrence… The motivation for creating Taster was to provide an antidote to this experience. We develop menus of food that will travel well, prepare it fresh to order in just a couple of minutes, use proprietary technology to manage stock levels and streamline our communications with multiple delivery platforms, and use predominantly recyclable branded packaging for a more conscious, complete delivery experience. On top of this, we invest a substantial amount of the money saved by not having customer-facing restaurants into sourcing quality ingredients (one I’m particularly proud of is grass-fed beef from Ayrshire, Scotland, which we use in our Vietnamese concept, Mission Saigon), and building brands around our food to help elevate the experience for our customers.

The pandemic has been a huge catalyst, with thousands of new delivery-only kitchens opening up in Europe in the last few months alone, but their potential was clear long before this. A 2018 report from UBS, titled ‘Is The Kitchen Dead?’, stated that in one potential scenario, “by 2030 most meals currently cooked at home will instead be ordered online and delivered”. At Taster our ambition is to earn the largest share of this market by building customer-centric food brands that focus on quality. We want to create a digital restaurant experience that feels truly exciting, flipping those old preconceptions of food delivery being a disappointment on their head.

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