Cheftify provides an experience combines the experience of a seasonal gourmet meal, professional chef demonstration, and cooking class all in the comfort of your own kitchen.
Chef Thomas Rider arrived promptly to JAY’s front door at 6:45pm. Dressed in his white chef’s coat and armed with two Le Cordon Bleu bags of cooking equipment, his knife set, and organic ingredients, Chef Thomas left no doubt that he was prepared to create a fine dining experience for us. I was a little concerned that it would feel awkward to have a stranger cook for us in the apartment, but Thomas and his friendly manner immediately put those concerns to rest.
Thomas asked us about food allergies and restrictions. He explained that Cheftify sources ingredients from Whole Foods in DC and that while he did not select the ingredients personally, he was ready to adapt to food restrictions.
We had previously selected a 3 course dinner option from the fourteen listed on the Cheftify website, so had some idea of what we were getting. However, because the website did not describe the salad and left the dessert as a surprise, we watched Thomas unpack the groceries with interest. I was delighted when we learned the “green salad” first course turned out to be a winter kale salad with radishes tossed in a fresh pomegranate and lime vinaigrette.
As Thomas expertly sliced vegetables, we peppered him with questions about his background. (From where did he acquire those knife skills?) Thomas has been cooking his whole life and enrolled at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY when he was just 16 years old. While he enjoyed drawing inspiration for his cooking from the Hudson Valley, he completed his education at Le Cordon Bleu in Miami. After a short stint cooking at a luxury hotel in the British Virgin Islands, Thomas returned to his native Montgomery County and has since been dedicated to providing diners with experiences that are both outstanding and personal at the same time.
The entree was Canadian mussels with coconut and red curry broth. I would not normally cook mussels at home, but Thomas explained how to clean and prepare mussels for steaming. Thomas helped us select a beer to pair with the meal.
JAY had a bake at home baguette on hand to accompany the tasty mussels. The broth is often the best part of eating mussels and we needed something to sop up that tasty sweet and spicy broth! Thomas transformed our baguette into a crusty pan seared crostini in a hot skillet with Tunisian olive oil, salt, and pepper. This was definitely a tip I would duplicate in future meals.
When we selected our meal, Cheftify listed the dessert as a surprise. Our dessert was a white chocolate and raspberry gelato with fresh black raspberries. Cheftify has since updated their website to prompt diners to choose one of 3 desserts, including strawberry shortcake, s’mores, and mixed berries with fresh cream. I have not tried any of those desserts, but Cheftify uses organic fruit from Whole Foods so the shortcake and mixed berry options are likely winners. Choose s’mores for nostalgia sake or if you would like a demonstration to make a childhood treat at home.
The meal was delicious and the Cheftify experience that evening was enjoyable in of itself. However, what Cheftify provides that may distinguish its services from either another personal chef service or a meal at a restaurant is that Chef Thomas gave practical instructions that could help elevate future meals at home. I will shy away from cooking mussels no longer. Fresh pomegranate vinaigrette will be on the menu and yes, I will be using a skillet to make crostini from a baguette. *Although Thomas came with his own cooking equipment this time, Cheftify suggests diners set out their own cooking equipment. We could have recreated some aspects of the meal using equipment JAY already had at home. Now if I only had Chef Thomas’ knife skills.
Other thoughts and tips:
Good choice for people who have their alcohol. The cost of beverage mark ups in restaurants can add up. Also, with a personal chef working away in the kitchen, your time can be freed up to show off your wine cellar or cocktail mixing skills.
Editor’s Notes (by JAY):
- The teaching aspect may not be part of their normal program. I asked in the “Notes” section of the order for the Chef to teach us the dish (something that my contact JP said was possible).
- In the “Notes” section, I listed CAF’s allergies, which include chocolate.
- At the time that I placed my order (just a few days ago), actually selecting your dessert was not possible, although it is now. So, the dessert was a “mystery dessert,” and I had already listed chocolate as an allergy. The dessert wound up being White Chocolate Gelato, so the inclusion of a chocolate dessert was an error on Cheftify’s part. I’m sure they will be more careful with allergies in the future.
- A Cheftify press release I received today stated that you now get a choice of salad.
- We really enjoyed speaking with Chef Thomas and watching him cook. He even let CAF use the digital SLR camera he happened to have in his car (CAF’s camera’s memory card malfunctioned), so if the pictures look better than the ones I take, blame the two of them and the better camera.
- The Bake at Home Organic French Baguette (by Essential Baking Co.) I ordered from Relay Foods. The baguette is on sale this week at Relay Foods and there is a coupon/ad for $30 off of $50 on your first order on the right side of the dcfud.com homepage.
- * He did use my pots, pans, utensils, but brought salt, pepper, Tunisian olive oil, plates for the main course, and his own knives.
Disclosure: From time to time, we are given free items, meals, or entry to events. Also, I do have a relationship with Relay Foods.