12/04/2012 05:02:00 PM

Would You Kitchit? We Did in Chicago With Chefs From Governor in Brooklyn

Kitchit – it’s probably not a verb but we’re still trying to figure out what this company, which recently launched in Chicago, is all about. The name of the game is dinner parties and pop-ups - events that take chefs out of the kitchen and diners out of the restaurant for a unique experience. The company launched in October in San Francisco, and since then has expanded to New York and Chicago. They boast an impressive resume of chefs (Chris Pandel, Beverly Kim, Brian Jupiter, Cleetus Friedman and Matthew Kirkly to name a few) who diners can invite into their kitchens for a custom meal – at a price, of course.

In addition to the dinner parties, Kitchit hosts pop-ups. Like the one last night with the chefs from Governor in Brooklyn. Governor, a beautiful little space, complete with a living plant wall, was wrecked by Hurricane Sandy. Located in one of the few neighborhoods at or below sea level, water from the rising East River bombarded the building. Governor, the less-than-six-months-old restaurant is no more, but they will rebuild thanks to a whirlwind revival tour sponsored by Kitchit.

Last night’s meal - held at Jane Addams Hull House - featured a six-course meal prepared by the chef’s from Governor with assistance from chefs Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark. Family-style servings of seared foie gras with roasted beets and celery root pasta with aerated clothbound cheddar cream was interrupted by a heart-wrenching slideshow of images of the restaurant pre and post Sandy. The glass-front restaurant saw feet of water that shattered the façade and ruined furnishing as well as their signature art. Despite the tragedy, the New York perseverance of the chef was immersed in their cuisine.

A staple dish at the restaurant, the trout with crispy garlic-roasted kale a sauce of tapioca, was served alongside 36-hour braised and lacquered beef tongue. The light and somewhat pedestrian trout was contrasted by the heartiness and unusual texture of tongue, but both proteins were well executed and flavorful. Taking chefs out of their kitchens exposes the vulnerability of preparing food for guests, they cannot hide behind trendy décor or elegant plantings. Instead, these non-traditional dining experiences lets the food shine while at the same time spotlight chefs’ talent.

That is the raison d'être of Kitchit – empower chefs by providing a platform outside the restaurants of restaurant menus and commercial kitchens by connecting them with diners who appreciate the art of experiencing food. What on earth does that mean? According to co-founder, Brendan Marshall, Kitchit “creates joy by brining people happiness.” A meal is just a meal, Marshall said, there will be another meal tomorrow (hey, there might be another meal that night if enough alcohol is involved), but the experience and memory of eating a meal prepared by celebrated chefs in your own home will remain.

The site works as follows - members can browse chefs via different dining experiences they cater to – from cooking lessons to cocktail parties and “4-star dinner.” Some meals have fixed prices and others are determined through negotiations with the chef. Once an experience and chef is selected the host and the chef work together to plan a menu. The meal is prepaid for by the host or split amongst guests, and an average meal costs about $75 per person. “What they are spending is what they are buying,” Marshall explained, which includes the price of the ingredients and the chef’s time. Kitchit is about accessibility as well as value.

We have our skepticisms: how will a company dedicated to reviving the dinner party fare in market saturated with dining options? Only time will tell. Don’t take our word for it, check out the site and our photos from last night.


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