Grilling Pro Tips from Top Kitchensurfing Chefs

We’re in the heat of summer, so how do we deal with it? By embracing the warmth and standing over a hot grill, of course. To make sure that all your grilling procedures are on point, we turned to our resident professionals - Kitchensurfing chefs, of course. Here’s what they had to say:

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Always Use Charcoal

"I always will use a charcoal grill. If you’re using gas, you might as well be cooking on a stove top. You need the charcoal to get the right kind of flavor from the grill. I will always travel to a client’s house with my own Weber grill, just to be sure I’ve got the right equipment." - Chef Warren Schierenbeck

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Tools

Chef Sung Kim loves using a Grill Mat when grilling marinated meats, fish, and small vegetables. “It prevents the food from falling through the cracks and from the food burning on direct fire.”

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Grilling Fruit

Chefs are thinking out of the box this summer and grilling tons of fruit.

Kathy Viskup: Peaches and nectarines slow grilled and basted with maple-brown sugar sauce. “Goes wonderfully with very vanilla ice cream.”
Shuchi Naidoo: Grilled pineapple with cracked pepper, paprika, and lemon juice.
Ryan Rondeno: Grilled stonefruit with burrata and vincotto
Debra Lynch Burchell: “I grew up grilling pineapples, cashews, pomerac, bananas and mangoes. Everyone thought I was nuts!”

That’s what the pros say, but it’s up to you to test their wisdom. Plan a grilled feast of your own.


Say Hello to Kitchensurfing Seattle, Our Newest City

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Kitchensurfing is coming to the Pacific Northwest. Today, we’re thrilled to announce the launch of Kitchensurfing Seattle, our sixth city. Seattle is one of the most exciting food cities in America, home to unique local ingredients, renowned restaurateurs like Tom Douglas, Ethan Stowell, the Canlis brothers, and bold culinary experiments like Modernist Cuisine.

It’s about a lot more than tossing fish or rugged, bearded chefs peddling backyard-smoked salmon. It’s a food culture that prioritizes simple, bold, and local flavors on the plate, and passionate, meticulous, daring chefs in the kitchen.

This is Seattle, and these are three reasons we’re thrilled to be here.

1. Thinking Local

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Every tourist or food television enthusiast can tell you about Pike Place market, but that’s not the only place to get a taste of foods that are authentically Seattle.

The dominant flavors come naturally from the landscape: seafood, wild game, hearty vegetables, mushrooms, berries, hops and other forageables. The newer, perhaps more unusual flavors come from the people: cheese, beer, wine, and even sake.

When you eat in Seattle, chances are better than ever that what you’re eating is from Seattle. That’s the kind of locavorism that many great American food cities aspire to. Here, it comes naturally.

Seattleites care about the source of their food, and that interest extends to the chef who brings it (sometimes literally) from farm to table. We’re here to shorten the distance between you and your favorite chef.

2. The Value of Food Work

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Seattle recently passed its new municipal minimum wage law, and the effects have been felt throughout the local food industry.

On the one hand, the law demonstrates that the community understands the value of the labor that goes into the food we eat, and, by extension how difficult — and crucial — food work is to the local economy. When we started Kitchensurfing, our mission was to give people unparalleled access to the food they love, while providing chefs an opportunity to earn fair compensation for their work. We’re enthusiastic about any community taking steps in that direction.

On the other hand, a $15 minimum wage makes it difficult for new food businesses to get off the ground, meaning young chef-entrepreneurs face yet another hurdle to sharing their food with the world.

For chefs, Kitchensurfing is a platform for building independent food businesses. We hope chefs who find themselves frustrated by the restaurant industry — whether as owners or line cooks — can use our platform to build their independent brands without the the margins, markups, and bottom lines that come with brick and mortar.

3. Tech Meets Food

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Seattle has long been a hub of the technology industry, and we’re excited to bring Kitchensurfing to such a strong community of innovators and influencers.

Food is all about personal connections, and we view technology as a way to facilitate those experiences, and to make them a part of everyday life.

Our CEO and Co-Founder Chris Muscarella describes it this way:

My interest in technology was always about how to make it more human and use it to allow people to live the best lives they could. It was a similar set of desires that led me into the hospitality business—I’ve supported and helped open a few restaurants in Brooklyn, New York because I wanted to participate in the magic of making people happy every evening.

Food is the music of our generation. Dining has gone from a compulsory thing that was done en route to some other kind of entertainment (like a show) to the main event itself. This is a huge cultural shift that gets us back to the table as a primary source of joy and comfort. It is our goal to have more people feeling that joy—and to work with talented chefs and cooks to make it happen.

We’re absolutely thrilled with our first group of chefs in Seattle, and we can’t wait to start making great meals happen.

Hello, Seattle. Come see what Kitchensurfing is all about.

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All photography by Catherine Abegg.


Kosher Cooking Guidelines: What You Need To Know

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Last week, we had the pleasure of announcing Kitchensurfing’s new Kosher department. In New York City, we have trained chefs ready to prepare exciting meals for any occasion, all with Kosher ingredients and in a Kosher environment.

But what exactly does it mean to prepare Kosher? It’s a technique not all chefs know how to master. So, we’re going to break it down for you in a very digestible way. Here we go:

What is Kosher?

Kashrut is the body of Jewish law dealing with what foods we can and cannot eat and how those foods must be prepared and eaten. Kosher describes the food that meets these standards. Contrary to popular belief, rabbis or other religious officials do not bless food in order to make it Kosher. Food can be kosher without a rabbi ever being involved; for example, the vegetables from your garden are undoubtedly Kosher. However, in our modern world of processed foods, it is difficult to know what ingredients are in your food and how they were processed, so it is helpful to have a rabbi examine the food and its processing to assure consumers that the food is Kosher.

General Rules

Although the details of keeping kosher are extensive, the laws all derive from a few fairly simple, straightforward rules:

  1. Certain animals may not be eaten at all. The restriction includes the flesh, organs, eggs, and milk of the forbidden animals.
  2. Of the animals that may be eaten, the birds and mammals must be killed in accordance with Jewish law.
  3. All blood must be drained from meat and poultry before it is eaten.
  4. Certain parts of permitted animals may not be eaten.
  5. Fruits and vegetables are permitted, but must be inspected for insects (which cannot be eaten).
  6. Meat cannot be eaten with dairy or fish.
  7. Utensils (including pots, pans and cooking surfaces) that have come into contact with meat, may not be used with dairy, and vice versa. Utensils that have come into contact with non-Kosher food may not used with Kosher food.
  8. Grape products, such as wine, grape juice, or brandy, must be Kosher certified.

The Details

Kosher Animals: cattle, sheep, goats, deer, and bison.

Non-Kosher Animals: pig and animals that don’t chew their cud and have split hooves.

Kosher Seafood: Any seafood with fins and scales, including tuna, salmon, sea bass, striped bass, herring, tilapia, flounder, bluefish, arctic char, cod, fluke, grouper, haddock, halibut, anchovies, perch, snapper, sardines, sole, trout, whitefish.

Non-kosher Seafood: Any shellfish, including lobsters, oysters, shrimp, clams, crabs. Other non-kosher fish include swordfish, catfish, eel, sturgeon.

Forbidden Fats and Nerves: The sciatic nerve and its adjoining blood vessels may not be eaten. 

Got questions? Tweet @Kitchensurfing​ or message us on Facebook and we’ll give you all the info.


5 Things To Get at The Farmers’ Market Right Now

As any chef will tell you, farmers’ markets are the best place to find fresh, local produce. In the summertime, warm weather favorites like tomatoes, berries, and all manner of leafy greens are starting to come into season. To help you pick out the best of the best this weekend, we’ve asked our chefs to recommend their favorite ingredients now in season.

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1. Heirloom Tomatoes

Dish: Hand-rolled cavatelli with clams, torn herbs, heirloom tomato, and Spanish olive oil
Menu: Sustainable Seafood - Summer 2014
Chef: Dante Giannini

2. Kirby Cucumbers

Dish: Green garden salad with fresh greens, kirby cucumbers, chickpea, and red pepper in a dark chocolate balsamic vinaigrette
Menu: Summer Swordfish Dinner
Chef: Maureen Homenick

3. Garlic Scapes

Dish: Burrata with fava beans, castelvetrano olives, garlic scapes, and grilled bread
Menu: Beach House Not Included
Chef: Elizabeth Fraser

4. Sweet Corn

Dish: Grilled pork tenderloin with summer corn, spiced plum chutney, and caramelized fennel
Menu: Summer Dinner Party
Chef: Elyse Bekins

5. Basil

Dish: Kale salad with basil-walnut dressing
Menu: Simple Summer
Chef: Timothy Fahy

What’s looking good at your farmer’s market this summer? Tweet @Kitchensurfing​ and let us know!


The Best of July 4th Weekend in #KSgrams

There was so much good eating happening this weekend, we couldn’t keep it all to ourselves. Here’s a roundup of some of our favorite instagrams of your food this weekend.

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@susanpittard enjoyed the most perfect plate of summer food from chef Linda Sarris

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Chef Joey Giorgianni’s Ancient Grains Salad was a perfect addition to the July 4th buffet table

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S’mores are exactly what you want for a July 4th Bachelor Party and Chef Mara Freedman delivered

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Another winner from @susanpittard - these clams are too good

For more delicious food porn, be sure to follow @kitchensurfing​ on Instagram!


5 Best Desserts You’re Eating This Weekend

Move over Flag Cake, it’s time to celebrate this Independence Day in true fashion - with delicious food. Kitchensurfing chefs are all booked up this weekend and are prepping some amazing menus for your parties. Here are the desserts we’re excited about this weekend. 

1. Rustic Boozy Cobbler with seasonal fruits drowned in St. Germaine - BBQ Palooza, Chef Joey Giorgianni

2. Filipino Halo Halo - Pan Asian Feast, Chef Roland Calupe

3. Banana Cream and Bittersweet Chocolate Cream Pies - July 4th Soul Food Party, Chef Josh Zinderman

4. French Beignets made with cashews and almonds, filled with butterscotch sauce and served with vanilla bean ice cream - Holiday Feast, Chef Charles Disanayake

5. S’mores - Backyard Bachelor BBQ, Chef Mara Freedman

Craving any of these excellent desserts? Find your chef.


Introducing Kosher Chefs for Kitchensurfing

"We won the war, we lost the war, let’s eat” is a famous Jewish saying. As the saying suggests, food plays a pivotal role in the Jewish social environment. From Shabbat and festival dinners to nachas events like brisses or a graduation parties, food is an important part of every celebration.

When you think about Kosher cuisine, the first foods to come to mind are often gefilte fish from a jar, bland deli meats, and lukewarm matzo ball soup. It’s time to change that.

Kitchensurfing is excited to announce the launch of Kosher operations in New York City. Our new Kosher arm includes 17 trained and vetted chefs who offer gourmet food made from carefully sourced, certified Kosher ingredients, all prepared in your own Kosher kitchen environment.

For many observant families, a chef’s word that her food is “Kosher” often isn’t enough to guarantee that sourcing, handling, and preparation have been correct, down to the letter of the law. That’s where our staff comes in.

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What does “Kosher” mean to Kitchensurfing?

Contrary to popular belief, Kosher is not “food that has been blessed by a rabbi.” Kosher has more to do with the entire product and the processes through which your food is prepared.

Literally, “Kosher” translates to mean “fit” or “proper.” When used in relation to food products, “Kosher” means that the item in question meets the dietary requirements of Jewish law. In order to ensure that all Kosher food prepared by Kitchensurfing chefs is fit for consumption, we turn to the head of our Kosher program, Yuda Schlass.

Yuda is a chef born and raised in Jerusalem, Israel. He grew up with his parents who owned an event catering company focusing mainly on macrobiotic and health-oriented cooking. In 2002 after graduating high school, he moved to Los Angeles, CA to pursue a culinary career. Since then, Yuda worked as a line cook, sous-chef in several restaurants and cafes in the LA area. In addition, Yuda has also worked for kof-k supervision company, supervising kosher processes for various food manufacturers.

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So, how does it work?

Let’s say you want to have an authentic Thai meal with your family. At present, your Kosher restaurant options in the city are limited: there are only so many solid options, and even among those there’s not a whole lot of culinary diversity. Authentic Northern Thai and Kosher? That’s a tough ask.

With Kitchensurfing, you can book a talented, Kosher-trained chef for custom-made meal in the comfort of your home — all with just a few clicks. That’s almost good enough to invite the in-laws over for Shabbat dinner.

Why launch a Kosher market now?

It’s simple, really: the Kosher market is an underserved segment of New York’s dining scene. We know that there is a desire for a broad range of world cuisines among those who eat Kosher, a desire that the current crop of Kosher dining options in the city simply can’t fulfill. We’re eager to change that.

So, if you, your friends, or family keep Kosher, we’re here to find your new favorite chef. Whether it’s a casual backyard cookout, a family member’s sheva brachot, or a Friday night Shabbat dinner, we’ve got you covered.

Come see what Kosher dining can be in 2014.


"A Wonderful Amalgam of Tastes," This Week’s Kitchensurfing Guest Book

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Each week, our Kitchensurfing chefs prepare gorgeous meals for diners in their homes and at events. One of our favorite things to do at Kitchensurfing is read all the reviews that guests write about their chef, the experience, and — of course — the food. Today we highlight some of our favorite reviews from the past week:

Chef: Antonio Ortuño
Guest: David S.

We had a wonderful experience with Antonio, who cooked two incredible paellas for 18 people, as well as perhaps the best tortilla I’ve ever had. Antonio is no wall flower, disappearing into the kitchen. He’s engaged, loved to share his methods, entertained the guests and brought a lot of joy to the evening. He was helpful throughout and the food — no easy task — was excellent. Paellas are very particular…and I’m eager to try more of his menu.

Chef: Chris Lynch
Guest: John G.

I do not know if Heaven exists, but if it does… I hope that it consists of nothing more than eating Chris’s astonishing baked Alaska for all eternity.

Chef: Daniel Benhaim
Guest: Jane M.

Daniel prepared and served a 4-course dinner for 20 last night in our home. It was an extraordinary experience for us and for our guests. The food was exquisite — beautiful on the plate and so blissfully good. We’ve done dinners like this in the past, but never with such a happy outcome. It was beyond perfect. Don’t know how he does it, but he does it, and in the process makes a lot of people really really happy!

Chef: Dante Giannini
Guest: Mike M.

I hired Chef Dante for a private engagement dinner. His service was exceptional, while the food was nothing short of exquisite. The menu was both creative and traditional - lending to a wonderful amalgam of tastes. He was thoughtful in his preparation and methodical in his execution. He became an intricate part of a special day for my fiance and me and helped make it unforgettable.

Chef: Jitti Chaithiraphant
Guest: Michael H.

Spectacular Thai food from a real master. We loved it all, and savored not only the richness of flavors but Chef Jitti’s backstory. Authentic Thai “street food” in this case means everything but the street. Absolutely wonderful.

Chef: Maureen Lisi
Guest: Katie S.

Really just non-stop awe for Chef Maureen Lisi. I don’t want to go on and on because I also want to keep booking her for my private events, but, if you have a chance, between me booking her for every meal for the next decade (I kid), I would snap her up. She is really amazing and made my even effortless so I could really have a good time and enjoy myself, as opposed to getting caught up with the minutia of hosting. Again, the food was a amazing, she was amazing and the whole experience was amazing, what are you waiting for?

Chef: Mike Hofman
Guest: Marisa F.

Chef Mike was wonderful! He graciously took in stride our small and ill-equipped kitchen and executed a delicious meal that was perfect for surprising my husband. Still dreaming about the zeppolis! He was very well prepared, on time communicated effectively and most importantly, worked hard to make sure we were happy. We were thrilled with everything and would recommend Mike highly!

Start your own Kitchensurfing story today. Start here to find your chef.


Food Photography Tips from chef Sara Bojarski

It’s important that the food a chef presents not only tastes good, but also looks beautiful on the plate and photographs well. So, we brought in NYC chef Sara Bojarski — who has excellent food photography on her Kitchensurfing profile — to give us and her fellow chefs some tips on how to shoot food that looks delicious.

Prior to going to culinary school and becoming a chef, I worked as a professional photographer for 5 years. With my that experience, and starting my blog Urban Cookery, I have come up with a few tips on how to make your food photography look amazing! 

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1. Use natural lighting.
Natural lighting (not direct sunlight) is the best for food photography. Think of the kind of lighting you get on a gray day: perfectly even light without any direct harsh lights and shadows. This lighting will also help to preserve the natural colors of the food without giving it any strange filter.

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2. Keep it simple!
Some blog photographers add a lot of props that have nothing to do with the food, and in my opinion, take away from the main subject: your food! Use props like raw ingredients or simple utensils that makes sense in the photo (e.g. A silver spoon next to a bowl of soup you’re photographing).

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3. Depth of Field. The depth of field refers to the portion of your photo that is in focus. A shallow focus on food makes for very dramatic and beautiful photos. Using a macro lens on a camera helps to achieve this, or if you’re simply snapping a photo on Instagram, utilize the ‘tilt’ function to create an interesting focal point and depth of field.

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4. Add a human element to your photos. Showing a picture of your hand, or even you blurred out in the background adds a level of personality to a photo. Try having someone photograph you plating your food, or stirring a pot, etc.

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5. When in doubt, shoot from above. 90% of the food I photograph looks absolutely stunning when shot from above – especially soups and salads!


Be All That You Can BBQ This July 4th: 5 Epic Independence Day Menus

It seems like summer has just begun and it’s hard to believe that July 4th is a few weeks away. So let’s get this started, it’s time to plan your party menu.

While it’s tempting to go for the traditional burgers, hot dogs and corn on the cob (because it’s delicious!), we’re having some other thoughts for this year’s Independence Day celebrations. These 5 chefs from NYC and LA are bringing their A-game to the party this year. See below for some of our favorite out-of-the-box July 4th menus.

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Spanish BBQ for 4th of July from chef Antonio Ortuño
A full menu featuring grilled Spanish Chorizo, Morcilla, pork belly and vegetables. And of course multiple tapas.

Smoke, Spice & Summer from chef Eliot Pardo
Jumbo shrimp cocktail and Dos Equis braised short rib belong in your July 4th diet.

American and German BBQ from chef Sebastian Münkwitz
German potato salad and bratwurst share a dining table with pasta salad and herb buttered corn.

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BBQ for the 4th from chef Joey Giorgianni
Move over burgers, we’ve got pulled pork sliders, pork back ribs and grilled artichokes.

World Cup Does July 4th from Florencia & Maria Laura
Inspired by the international flavors of the World Cup, this menu is filled with Brazilian treats like pao de queijo and coxinha that are sure to spice up your BBQ.

Don’t waste a minute, plan your July 4th bash before it’s too late!