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What happens when talented chefs without a kitchen want to cook for people who enjoy dining with their friends? "Let them meet!" was the answer for Chris Muscarella, Borahm Cho and Lars Kluge, who founded Kitchensurfing in spring of this year. Kitchensurfing is a technology company based in New York City, "who uses the web to bring together a community of talented worldwide chefs and connects them to people that love to eat”, CEO Muscarella tells FDL.
More than just a tech company, Kitchensurfing is a movement that offers chefs new ways to take on work outside of restaurants allowing them to be individually booked through the community based site and paid anywhere from 12 to 150 euros an hour to cook tailored meals for diners willing to experience eating in a more intimate home setting.
“Going to a restaurant with 8 - 10 friends is rarely a good experience. On the chef side, most chefs are compensated really poorly. And they're people with interesting stories and skills. And it seemed like there was a way of doing something that was in between all of those things that was a great experience for everyone involved - chef and eater.” After a successful start of growing the New York network to 130 chefs, Kitchensurfing founders chose to launch a second Kitchensurfing city this fall in Berlin. Berlin’s “food scene is young and coming up. In a city filled with expats and others with high food expectations and a taste for more adventurous types of eating, it seemed like a good experiment for Kitchensurfing,” says Chris.
As part of Kitchensurfing’s Berlin launch, a fair was held last September featuring 14 chefs representing different backgrounds and countries – from Mexico to Sweden - who cooked for groups of Berlin diners in the privacy of their homes over a 4 day period. Being one of those “adventurous” types, I attended the fair not knowing what to expect, but decided to go in open- minded. Four food courses that stretched over four hours, I joined a group of jolly friends for a festive Ecuadorian/Peruvian brunch courtesy of chef Ximena Jurado Llosa (left, in the picture below by Achille Alessandro Farese). What was most noticeable to me was that chefs were cooking with a “style of cuisine representing roots and memories, traditional cooking mixed with personal, modern interpretations,” says Ximena. Chefs were not only bridging hometown regional ingredients with their modern experiences, but also enjoyed cooking without the fast paced restaurant time pressure.
Besides the authenticity of the food, what was also apparent was a real sense of dining intimacy. Unlike typical restaurant eating where diners sit at a table, pick a dish from a menu and are served food on a plate via a waiter, Kitchensurfing diners get “much closer to chefs than in a restaurant, get recipes and recommendations on how to cook the dishes they had. I explain the idea and the history behind each course. I take the time to answer any questions and in the end I give my guest a personal give-away,” modern-nordic chef Björn Schmidt (in the picture at the top of the page) tells FDL.
Chefs are intrigued to join Kitchensurfing because it’s an “interesting platform to find more clients,” says chef Raul Oliver Arriaga (right, in the picture above by Achille Alessandro Farese). Besides financial opportunities for chefs there’s also chef “networking and the possibility to collaborate with other chefs,” says Siripen Lingk who specializes in Fine Asian Fingerfood and Fine Thai Cuisine.
So many positive attributes, one little inevitable flaw. “In a restaurant or in my own kitchen I know exactly where I have things to prepare dishes,” says Björn, “but when I enter a new kitchen, I enter a stranger’s land. That’s why I must bring every single ingredient I need for my dinner, and every tool.” A great bag on wheels, the real imprint for these new nomadic chefs…