Looking for someone to dine

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Manuela Ribeiro has an addiction.

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A few months ago, the year-old teacher decided it was time to put her nearly-obsessive habit to good use. She ed up on the website Bookalokal, and now welcomes strangers into her Brussels flat twice a week for lavish dinner parties. Market intelligence firm Euromonitor International called it one of the biggest trends to look out for inand a wave of new start-ups like Bookalokal, EatWith and VizEat are pioneering a way for budding chefs to earn additional income from their talents, while offering authentic experiences for travellers and locals alike.

Each website bills itself as a community where users can buy and sell food-related experiences and rate them afterwards for quality control. Manuela Ribeiro poses with a plate from a gourmet burgers event she hosts through Bookalokal. Credit: Quentin Garchi. However, there are notable exceptions. Credit: EatWith.

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Anyone is free to up as a host on VizEat, which rings up all prospective cooks via Skype to offer tips on creating a profile and crafting the perfect dining experience. Bookalokal — which offers a broader marketplace for food excursions than VizEat think food truck tours, knife workshops and cupcake decorating — maintains quality control by first putting prospective cooks through Skype interviews and, when possible, in-person verification from other users nearby. EatWith sets an even higher bar for its offerings.

A second round involves an interview on Skype and demo dinner with an EatWith team member. EatWith now has more than chefs in 30 countries, while VizEat has more than 1, hosts in 50 countries. Bookalokal has about hosts in 46 countries. Most diners learn about these websites through word of mouth and marketing campaigns in target markets such as San Francisco, Washington, Barcelona, Rome and Tel Aviv.

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As an added insurance, EatWith and VizEat offer some form of insurance coverage for damages or foodborne illness, the specifics of which vary by region. Petit said the most successful hosts on VizEat have found a way to weave their personal stories into the dining experience. Bookalokal founder Evelyne White agreed.

Marie-Claude welcomes guests at her Paris table, where they can meet people from around the world.

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White said small details make a big difference to diners: Is the bathroom as clean as the kitchen? Is there a hand towel for guests to wipe their hands? Did the food come out when you said it would?

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Are they locals, or are they travellers who would appreciate tips on what to do in the area and a deeper explanation of the food? The recipe for success requires hours of preparation, reserves of energy and the ability to take on the role of both chef and maitre d'.

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Ribeiro, the home cook in Brussels, said it can sometimes take days to organise a single event. To comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Capital, please head over to our Facebook or message us on Twitter. Eat with strangers, make money? Share using. By Mark Johanson 30th April How to up Anyone is free to up as a host on VizEat, which rings up all prospective cooks via Skype to offer tips on creating a profile and crafting the perfect dining experience. Could the same thing happen with social dining? How to succeed in business Petit said the most successful hosts on VizEat have found a way to weave their personal stories into the dining experience.

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