Hire-a-chef network seeks new market among observant Jews. Duck a l'orange, anyone?
In a candlelit penthouse in Brooklyn, thirty guests mill about with basil cocktails in hand. Handcrafted canapés are brought around on delicate china trays, and the crowd samples tartare of mackerel and mushrooms stuffed with a white wine and herb mixture.
“Hors d'oeuvres for the refined palate,” comments one guest, as he dabs his mouth and reaches for another.
The occasion: a supper club kickoff to celebrate the greater Kitchensurfing kosher launch. It's the newest initiative of kitchensurfing.com, a company founded in 2012 by techie/foodie Chris Muscarella that allows individuals to a book a personal chef for any number of engagements.
“We’re bringing quality food to the people,” said Muscarella. “No more waiting, no more lines, no more middleman. You just have to show him/her the kitchen.”
Kosher food is the next frontier. The company's homepage now features a small orange tab that reads, “Looking for Kosher?” In order to market the idea to New York Jews, Muscarella teamed with up with “Hasid+Hipster,” Yuda Schlass.
“I’m the kosher tsar,” said Schlass, entrusted with the logistics for the kosher part of the site. Himself a chef, Schlass ran a “sandwich lab” in his Crown Heights loft for over two years. “I’m a natural man for the job — for me, the artisanal kosher food world is home,” said Schlass.
Schlass grew up Lubavitch; the crowd at his event was ranged from Modern Orthodox to haredi.
The Brooklyn foodie scene is quickly developing a kosher-foodie sub-scene. In recent years, several kosher boutiques, including Mason & Mug and Kava Shteeble, have sprouted.
“The world of artisanal Jewish food is speaking more and more to my generation,” said Gabriel Boxer, one of the guests. Boxer, in his thirties and from Woodmere, thinks hiring a personal chef will catch on his community. “This food is something different. It’s something funky — it’s not just another deli sandwich or steak from Le Marais. My generation is looking to be adventurous with food — we want food to be an experience.”
The seven-course dinner, assembled by kitchensurfing.com chefs Eric Bolyard and Ygael Tresser, included ocean trout with charred white asparagus, pistatio and salmon roe (kosher anchovies) duck a’ l’orange and lamb chops with fennel and rhubarb agrodolce. The lamb chops, cooked to tender perfection, were a crowd favorite.
“When you can’t pronounce the things on the menu, you know it’s going to be good,” said one guest, licking her fingers. “Is there any way you can pack that to go?”
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