INTERVIEW Etienne Marleau-Rancourt, COO Cookly

Interview, Cookly, culinary tourism, ASEAN

Cookly COO Etienne Marleau-Rancourt and Cookly CEO Benjamin Ozsanay
Cookly is the global community of passionate cooks, travelling foodies and culture enthusiasts exploring the world through local food and cooking traditions. Created back to 2015 in Bangkok by Canadian Etienne Marleau-Rancourt with co-founder Benjamin Ozsanay, Cookly is now the largest platform for cooking classes around the world, helping travellers to prepare authentic dishes in over 150 destinations with the help of foodies and food professionals. Etienne Marleau-Rancourt speaks about the latest trends and evolution at Cookly. 

How did Cookly start?

Etienne Marleau-Rancourt – I’ve always had a love for food, cooking and travel. Before Cookly, I worked in Montreal as a cook in a restaurant. When I  moved to Bangkok, I developped a new social networking app, and it was through my travels around Southeast Asia that I met Benjamin Ozsanay. We then tryed to book a cooking class, and realized that it was really difficult to find a cooking class online. After doing more research into the food and travel market, we saw the amazing opportunity for a booking platform dedicated to cooking classes. We decided to base our operations in Bangkok, one of the world’s culinary capitals with some of the best cooking schools, which allowed us to expand quickly throughout Southeast Asia.

What is your current offer to visitors to your app?

E.M-R- We offer cooking classes primarily, as well as other types of food tours and culinary activities. Our users can search and book unique foodie experiences. We do not just offer local market tours but also truffle hunting and olive oil making in Italy, Sake tastings and knife making in Japan, Tequila tasting in Mexico, and more of course. After launching in Thailand, Vietnam and Bali, we are now present in more than 30 countries, offering over 1,000 cooking classes and traditional food experiences under our mission ‘Cook the World’.

Which destination seems the most promising?

E.M-R- Presently, we are seeing great potential in Mexico as a destination.  Though Mexican food culture is globally recognized, there is still a strong sense of tradition and authenticity, which is something very important to our Cookly community. Schools, teachers and hosts have been very receptive and excited about the ability to list their experiences and manage their bookings on Cookly, as many of them do not yet have an online presence. As for Asia, we plan to continue to grow our presence, particularly in Indonesia, in up and coming cities known for their rich food traditions.

How would you qualify the current experience in Southeast Asia compared to other continents?

E.M-R-  Every region is different, offering its own unique food experience. In Europe, for example, there is a strong focus on culinary techniques, while in Asia, there is a deep cultural link with food. Southeast Asia continues to be in fact one of our regions with the most coverage and best performance, with over 600 experiences listed.For many of our Asian destinations, Cookly is the only way to discover and book these cooking classes online. These classes are ideal for travellers looking to escape the commercial offerings that can be found on general travel sites – those who are looking for traditional food experiences led by locals from the community.

What is your next step?

E.M-R- As we move forward, we are putting a strong focus on Community Development and Green Initiatives. Our strategy for expansion is certainly one of quality, not quantity. As we enter into new markets globally, we are placing an emphasis on classes and experiences that are truly reflective of the culture of the destination. Our goal is to facilitate the passing down of cooking traditions from generation to generation, encouraging locals and travelers to share and sharpen their recipes and skills. Also we are also working on implementing some new, highly-requested features to the app based on user feedback.