Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Kitchit Review

Recently we hired a chef from for a friend's birthday party.  I thought I'd write about our experience.

If you're not familiar with Kitchit, in simple words it's a rent-a-chef service.  The chef comes to your house, cooks, and cleans up.  The website has a ton of chefs, ranging from local caterers looking for extra business, to sous chefs at nice restaurants (presumably trying to make extra scratch), to executive chefs providing high end experiences.  You can hire someone to cook for a dinner, a small party, or elaborate feasts.  Some chefs also provide cooking lessons, which I think would be fun for a lot of people.

What I was most impressed about was the resumes of many of the chefs on the website.  I found chefs who have worked in some of the most famous restaurants in America, including Per Se, The French Laundry, and Alinea.  I also found folks who had worked at internationally known places such as Noma and The Fat Duck.  I also found chefs working at some of the Michelin rated restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area that I know of (Michael Mina, Manresa, Quince, etc.).  Some chefs had worked with reasonably famous chefs such as Gordon Ramsey and Ron Siegel (the latter chef was the chef who beat Sakai on Iron Chef).

The menus chefs offer can range anywhere from $40 to over $200 a person.  Personally, I think the sweet spot is probably something in $125-$150 range per person.  If you're going to shell out more money than that, you might as well just go to the Michelin starred restaurants instead.

It's probably worth noting that while there is no minimum party size for many chefs, it appears many chefs have a minimum price they charge.  So it may get more expensive as your party size decreases more and more.  In addition, as your party size increases, some chefs will require additional servers/help and there can be small bumps in the price.  There can also be extra travelling costs depending on where you live.

There are many unique menus for vegetarian, vegan, or any diet.  Some serve the food restaurant style plating each course on a different plate.  Some serve the food family style.  Although I did not do this, most chefs can tweak and adjust the menu for your event if there are dietary restrictions or allergies.  Most can provide wine parings (presumably for extra, but we didn't ask).

Once you've found a chef you like, try and book em for a date with a few simple clicks.  A few days before the event they should call to coordinate final details.

While each chef is slightly different, the basic principle is the chef will bring all the ingredients and cooking apparatuses necessary to cook.  This includes pots, pans, and knives.  As the host, you are generally required to provide everything else for the meal including glassware, flatware, and utensils.  If you find yourself short on any requirements, a party rental store in your area should be more than able to supply your party with them at a very low price.  I live in the East Bay and used Pleasanton Rentals (  The chef will probably finalize these details with you before the event.

We hired a chef who does a "Michelin" style meal for $150 a person (before the extra server cost).  It was a 9 course tasting.  The food was excellent and it was a lot of fun trying all the dishes.  Several people at the party had never had a 7-10 course meal so it was a lot of fun for them to try all the different tastings and see what that kind of dining experience is like.

I was a little worried that the quality of the food wouldn't be that good.  After all, as good as a chef may be, there's only so much they can do in an average home kitchen.  They can only bring so many cooking devices and will not have ovens, stoves, etc. that are restaurant quality.  Anything related to smoking will probably be out of the question.  Baking can take hours so its unlikely to be done.  I suppose something could be sous vide cooked before hand, but I'm not sure what an average Kitchit chef will have available to them outside of a restaurant.

However, I wasn't disappointed.  What I had not taken into account is that the chefs will tune their dishes so that the dishes can be accomplished in an average kitchen.  I believe the chef we hired did happen to sous vide some food before arriving, only finishing it with pan frying at the house.  Other dishes can be prepped ahead of time, like terrines and cold-desserts. 

Here's a sample of some of the courses we had

Salmon, octopus, avocado

lobster terrine

pork belly, chile, salad

sirloin, croquet

While the food was really good, I think one of the funnest appeals of Kitchit is watching the chef do their magic.  A bunch of us are foodies, so watching the chef prepare the food is half the fun and something you often can't get at a restaurant.  The chef was also able to tell us some of his tales of working as a chef and other clients he's had too.  That was just as much fun as the food we ate.

Although I've only used Kitchit once, the experience was wonderful.  I can imagine hiring chefs from Kitchit for many other birthdays and events in the future.

Update 12/13/14:

We did another event and it was wonderful.  Couple of the dishes from this event (e.g. amongst my best pictures)

steak tartare

seared salmon w/ mussel sauce

Update 4/2/16:

For those wandering to this post, Kitchit has gone through a format change.  Instead of hiring a chef and their menu creation, you now get Kitchit pre-arranged menu.  So it's not really the same as what I posted above.


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