Meet The Cookware Co Sharpening Consumers' Kitchen Skills With On-Demand Cooking Coaches
Equal Parts is combining its line of 15 kitchen basics with live help from a group of cooking coaches to build consumers' kitchen confidence and intuition in the age of takeout
- Equal Parts is a recently launched DTC cookware line. Separating itself from meal kit services, the brand focuses on providing millennial consumers with the tools to engage in the kitchen by cooking meals with what's already in the fridge.
- Tyler Sgro, general manager of Equal Parts and a leader at its parent company Pattern, says that guidance and coaching is a key ingredient to the Equal Parts business model. By employing live cooking coaches who can text customers, users feel engaged and empowered to develop skills, especially in the age of food delivery.
- Sgro sat down with PSFK to discuss the direct-to-consumer concept, how the on-demand cooking coach service works and the brand's goal of helping everyday cooks become well-rounded in the kitchen.
PSFK: What inspired you to create DTC stovetop kits with integrated guidance?
Tyler Sgro: We saw very clearly that people didn't know how to use cookware, and that people weren't finding ways to re‑engage with the kitchen. We also found that cooking, and spending time in the kitchen specifically, was really time well spent. We wanted to design a brand that not only catered to that on a product level, but also on a guidance and emotional level, and that's where these pieces of Equal Parts come through—cookware and guidance, together.
Why include coaches as part of your services?
The guidance is something that we at Pattern believe is our secret sauce, if you think about our direct‑to‑consumer business model. These are individuals just like you and I—they're trained home cooks who've cooked for families, who've cooked for friends, who've cooked for partners.
This is a real person constantly talking to you. It's not a bot. It's very thoughtful, the way that they can engage with you; if you're a short texter, our coaches will cater to that. It's on your terms, which is how every relationship should be.
How does the coaching service work, and who are the chefs?
Instead of expert chefs, we actually refer to them as cooking coaches, because coaches are that person in your life who helps teach, guide, nurture. These are individuals just like you and me. They're really trained home cooks who've cooked for families, who've cooked for friends.
One of the criteria to become a home cook coach is being able to deliver guidance and intuition in the kitchen. Our coaches are people from all over the country who were home cooks just like us, but have maybe a little bit more experience in the kitchen. These are individuals who had careers as educators, as investment bankers, as product developers at other businesses, and have gravitated to this point in their life where they are wanting to help people in the kitchen.
To answer your question around the model, eight weeks of coaching come with every piece of cookware sold. Coaches are online from 4:00 to midnight every weekday, and then noon to midnight on the weekends to serve any on-demand needs.
Customers can communicate with a different coach throughout the cooking process. The great thing is, all of our coaches are connected on Slack. They talk behind the scenes and are saying, “Marissa was interested in this dish. Tomorrow, when you're online, you pick it up. Here's a note, and what we've cooked. Make sure you ask Marissa about this,” and work from there. So it's less about a personal relationship with one specific coach, and more about the relationship with cooking and helping customers build confidence and intuition.
Could you describe the specific demographic that you're targeting? How are you reaching it?
We wanted to be thoughtful around the 15 things that you, as a home cook, absolutely need to get started in your kitchen. We found that in our core consumer, which is a person in the 27 to 35‑year age range, that millennial. That person who's taking that next step in their life, we found that that was absolutely something that they were interested in.
How does Equal Parts stand out from the crowd? There are dozens of meal kits and cookware startups aimed at young people.
Those services don't necessarily teach you how to become a better home cook and build intuition in the kitchen. I would say they more cater to, “Hey, let's make this specific item.” I don't think that that's something that we're about. We're about engaging with our coaches and using our cookware to become a more well‑rounded home cook, finding your own place in the kitchen. I don't believe that some of those other services cater to that.
Could you talk a bit about how your cookware and packaging aligns with sustainability and transparency practices?
It's a continuous, iterative process of building new techniques because the market's always changing. How are you being responsible in your supply chain every time you're going through product iteration? We will not use plastic in our packaging—we use recycled corrugate. Constantly, as we think about even the choice of aluminum, a more recyclable material, we think about our carbon footprint in the long‑lasting nature of our products.
Have you considered brick-and-mortar?
The research undoubtedly told us that launching online through our ecommerce site was the best way to launch this brand. The beauty of ecommerce is that you have a very one‑to‑one relationship. You're constantly learning, and trying to be where your consumer is, and trying to learn about the best ways that they want to transact. We'll continue to look for ways to be wherever our consumer is. Right now, ecommerce makes sense for us.
Tell us about the events you hold!
We're doing something called Equal Parts Open Kitchen, We've brought customers to a beautiful space in New York that almost resembles an apartment. We've been doing events there with our internal team in Pattern and Equal Parts for years. Really, the goal there is to get our community engaged, teaching them about Equal Parts, and not just the cookware but also the guidance.
We believe that there are no mistakes, only new dishes. These events have really been a great way to showcase that and get people cooking.
So far, how have consumers responded?
The brand is resonating with people, which is really important in the early days of the brand. They're connecting with the idea that there's a reason why we're ordering in more. There's a reason why our generation isn't cooking. Our goal of helping you create a better meal at home is something that not a lot of cookware brands have talked about. All of our product was designed to work as a system and look beautiful in your home, but also help you use it in a responsible, enlightening and confident way.
Lead image: Daniel Arnold