As any grizzled city-dweller knows, the promise of delivery is not without caveat. Chief among the numerous potential contributors to a suboptimal home dining experience are the risk that contents may have shifted during travel, and the risk that your meal may no longer be of ideal temperature as it is carried over the threshold of your dwelling. While the meal kit paradigm remedies these aspects, the time and effort required to offset these issues may prompt home diners to invoke the Homer Simpson slogan-cum-call-to-(in)action: “Can’t someone else do it?”
Fortunately, the internet and the can-do attitude of our time has prompted the team at Kitchensurfing to accept the challenge. Kitchensurfing, a two-year-old New York-based start-up (think Airbnb for in-home private chefs/caterers), launched its new service, Same-Day Dinners, this week. From either a desktop computer or an iOS device, consumers can summon a chef to bring the ingredients and the equipment to cook a meal for up to six people. The expectation is that the chef will cook the meal, clean up, and exit the premises in approximately 30 minutes. For the rare individual who can predict past their next meal, Same-Day Dinners can be scheduled for time slots through the following Friday. At this time, the service is only available in Manhattan.
We were able to preview the service just prior to the public launch. Upon entering the site, the daily menu of three options is presented: a meat-inclusive meal, a pescetarian meal, and a vegetarian meal. The cutoff time for booking a Same-Day Dinner for the same evening is 3 p.m.; chefs are available to arrive at the beginning of each hour between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Just prior to the appointed time of 8 p.m., chef Lyra Magpantay arrived. Magpantay came equipped with all that she would need in her rectangular backpack, protruding pan inclusive. After being directed to and being briefly introduced to the kitchen, she produced the prepared ingredients from her thermally insulated bag and began in earnest, as completing the meal in the stated time left little margin for error.
Miraculously, after 33 minutes and without any obvious reliance on anything besides her memory, Magpantay had plated the three-course meal and was prepared to leave just four minutes later.
The meal was well-balanced and on par with a neighborhood casual dining establishment, with quantities that allowed for a small amount of leftovers. The salmon was seared, then baked to a tender consistency with a healthy coating of the Dijon marinade. The vegetables were roasted to a significant char, and the lentils were finished with hearty cream.
Conclusion: Prior to her departure, we stopped our chef. While our experience that particular night was seamless, surely things must go wrong at times. Magpantay, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu with primarily restaurant experience, remarked that the biggest risks involved getting to the client and dealing with the high level of variance between the ovens found in various apartments.
Yes, indeed, someone else can do it.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 14, 2014