In 2013, after years of working as an art director, Miriam Weiskind gave into her love of pizza, first giving pizza tours and then making them at Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Earlier this year, she lost both jobs because of the pandemic.

“I was trying to file for unemployment and I was one of those 300,000 people that had been put on hold or pending,” Ms. Weiskind said. “And I’m like, ‘What am I going to do?’ Well, there’s one thing I can do: bake pizza.”

Ms. Weiskind posted a menu in the lobby of her apartment building, offering free pies (donations accepted). After a few weeks, she was distributing pizzas across the five boroughs, and even to a family in Connecticut. Customers place orders through Ms. Weiskind’s Instagram account, and then pick up their pies outside of her apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn. She’s currently making about 70 pizzas a week, she said.

Israel Barranco Royaseli, a real estate agent with Corcoran, has always loved to cook specialties from his native Mexico. So when the coronavirus outbreak prevented him from working for a while, he started selling flan to his neighbors in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn, through targeted emails and Instagram. Even though he has recently returned to his real estate day job, he said that he intends to keep his flan side gig alive.

“Some people have told me it reminds them of home,” Mr. Royaseli said.

Credit…Brittainy Newman for The New York Times
Credit…Brittainy Newman for The New York Times
Credit…Brittainy Newman for The New York Times

Ms. Weiskind and Mr. Royaseli are not alone in their decisions to sell food out of their homes to New Yorkers during the pandemic. Culinary offerings across the city, some legal (most baked goods and donations-only enterprises are protected), some perhaps skirting the law a bit, range from Hungarian goulash in Brooklyn to carrot cake in Queens. And while doing this is not new — many New Yorkers, especially immigrants, have long peddled everything from tamales in the subways to birthday cakes on Instagram — the coronavirus outbreak has created a whole new market of sellers and buyers.

When Tiffany Tummala learned about a woman selling cinnamon rolls in her neighborhood, she couldn’t resist placing an order. She had grown tired of cooking and doing dishes all the time. Doing this, she could indulge in comfort food and help out a neighbor in need.

“I’m able to work from home, and my salary has stayed the same, but a lot of people in my neighborhood are gig workers or freelance,” Ms. Tummala said, “and I know a lot of people are struggling.”

When Mary Shepard and her family, including three teenagers, all came down with Covid-19 in March, Ms. Shephard started buying baked goods from her Upper East Side neighbor, Allison Shapiro.

“It was our bright spot during our three weeks of being sick,” said Ms. Shepard, who ordered challah, cinnamon babka, and chocolate chip cookies every week from Ms. Shapiro. “I got really sick, I could have died, so you know what? I’m going to enjoy that chocolate chip cookie.”

Ms. Shapiro, a college junior, formed her new company, BakeShap, when her summer internship at a Manhattan restaurant was canceled. She started by baking for neighbors like Ms. Shepard, but soon, word of mouth had her making deliveries across the city.

“I think people are still trying to figure out how to celebrate in these weird times,” Ms. Shapiro said.

Credit…Brittainy Newman for The New York Times
Credit…Brittainy Newman for The New York Times
Credit…Brittainy Newman for The New York Times

Paulina Barron, the baker behind the cinnamon buns, moved to Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, from Costa Rica in January for graduate school. Her home baking venture, Dough Studio, has been a way for her to connect to her new community. “It has helped me a lot because I’m new in the country and this has increased my network,” Ms. Barron said. “I’d love to think that some people I’ve met could be potential friends.”

For some, selling food is entirely about making money during a stressful time. Natalia, a substitute Spanish teacher who asked that her last name be withheld for legal reasons, lost her income when the schools closed in March. Her husband, a general contractor, saw his work slow down. So Natalia, who moved to New York from Argentina 12 years ago, decided to start making and selling empanadas.

After sending an email to her neighborhood group (Windsor Terrace and Kensington in Brooklyn), Natalia got immediate interest, she said. “I put my first ad up around 6 a.m., and by 7 a.m. I had 20 orders already.” She soon found herself staying up all night twice a week to make the empanadas (chicken, beef or vegetable) and she estimated that she’s making between $400 and $500 per week.

While the lockdown has caused widespread job loss, it has given many of these enterprising home bakers and cooks the push they’ve needed to start new businesses, even if they recognize that their success is circumstantial. To that end, a new app, WoodSpoon, which connects home cooks with local buyers, has seen its business soar.

In March, WoodSpoon was still in beta mode when the pandemic hit. “Everything changed, basically overnight,” said Oren Saar, a co-founder of the company. Overnight, he said, WoodSpoon received hundreds of inquiries from newly unemployed cooks and professional chefs.

Now there is currently a wait list of more than 200 home chefs who want to join. Chefs on the platform include Lenka Gengelova, a food blogger from Slovakia who offers dishes like smoked fried cheese and pierogi, and Kevin Martinez, who cooked at Nobu and Jean Georges.

“After Covid, everything changed,” Mr. Saar said. “So restaurants will change and this industry will change, and the way people consume food will change, and I think that we are part of the solution.” At the moment, WoodSpoon is available only in New York. He plans to expand to California next, followed by other locations.

Still, for some sellers, it’s less about making a living and more about helping others. Rachel Davies, 22, is donating all proceeds from her new venture, R.D. in the Kitchen, to food banks and social justice organizations. Operating out of her Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn apartment since March, Ms. Davies bakes up to 60 cookies a day. She also offers a service for customers who would like to donate cookies to front line and essential workers.

Similarly, Ms. Weiskind, the pizza maker, is giving away pies to essential workers, others who have lost their jobs, and anyone who says they’re having a tough time. “Knowing that you’re going to enjoy this pizza and that it’s going to make your life easier,” Ms. Weiskind said, “that is the greatest thing that you can pay me.”