You Know You Worked in a Restaurant Kitchen When…

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We all think we know what it’s like to be a chef in a restaurant. Because after all, we’ve watched many seasons of Top Chef Restaurant Wars. But as they say, “you just don’t know.” To get the real dish on the quirky ins and outs of being a real restaurant chef, we turned to the Kitchensurfing pros with restaurant experience to get their insider nuggets on what it’s like to work in a real restaurant kitchen.

Here are 23 signs you’ve worked as a restaurant chef:

1. When you’re in public and you yell out “behind!” to strangers… but nobody moves.

2. You drink out of a quart container at home.

3. You cannot stand a messy fridge.

4. And you must label your pantry items, even at home. (Cut, not torn masking tape!)

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5. You always carry at least 1 sharpie on you.

6. You have no feeling in your fingers - touching hot surfaces doesn’t faze you anymore.

7. Your arms have more stripes than a zebra from being burned on oven racks.

8. Staff meal was your ONLY meal of the day.

9. Even at home, you eat standing up.

10. Your significant other tells you that you’ve been talking in your sleep about searing meat and adding garlic

11. 1 AM is an early Saturday night dinner.

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12. You can’t wait for Monday because that’s when your weekend begins.

13. And you don’t even know what to do with yourself if you’re off on a Friday or Saturday.

14. You dress up to go to work, change into whites, then dress back up just to go home again, so you feel like a civilized person for a few hours (perhaps only the ladies).

15. You have zero tolerance for dull knives.

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16. Your knife roll is worth more than the car you drive.

17. Nobody will cook for you because they’re intimidated, but you are just so grateful for any chance for a home-cooked meal.

18. You can’t go to bed without an ice cold beer.

19. You hear the ticket printer in your sleep.

20. Your signature cologne smells of seared foie gras and deep fried anything.

21. The old adage that the “customer is always right” doesn’t mean anything when they tell you they are allergic to the colors green, red, or orange.

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22. You see your fellow line cook three times as much as your significant other.

23. You roll your eyes when someone not in the restaurant industry complains about a 50-hour work week.

In sum, working in a restaurant is simply crazy. As Boston chef Chris Hallahan says: “Working as a chef is one of the most crazy jobs to have. You toil for years to learn a skill set and the ability to create experiences with food, only to have the majority of your guests ask for substitutions and inane changes that suck the soul out of your handwork. To be cooking at a high level and executing professionally requires a level of sacrifice that is unreal. Non-industry friends and family don’t understand why you can’t answer your phone Friday at 7pm or come to your BBQ Saturday at 4pm.”

Special shout outs to Kitchensurfing chefs who contributed their insights to this piece: Sung Kim, Tim Fahy, Evelyn Garcia, Chris Hallahan, Josh Zinderman, Eric Bolyard, Lori Hill, and Jennie Trinh


Meatless Mondays: 4 Tips To Full Vegetarian Meals

For some, the thought of going totally vegetarian is a hard one to grasp. Can you get all your essential nutrients without eating meat? Where do you get your protein? Or your iron? It’s no secret these days that eating vegetarian is an incredibly healthy way to maintain a normal diet, but it can be a struggle to make a full meal without any chicken, beef, or fish.

Kitchensurfing chefs specialize in preparing vegetarian and vegan meals that everyone can enjoy - meat lovers included! For some pointers on how to create a well-balanced and filling vegetarian meal, we turned to our chefs. Here are 4 tips for how to create a full vegetarian meal:

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1. Use Seasonal Vegetables - Chef Rachel Lauginiger

Working with seasonal veggies from local farmers gives you a flavor packed meal every time. Using a variety of textures and components also make veggie meals a bit more familiar to those who are used to have meat as the center of a meal.

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2. Make it Weighty + Hearty - Chef Briana Ryan

I love using various lentils, beans, gluten-free grains and nuts in my veggie dishes to give them more weight. I especially love making hearty soups, stews, and tagines along with beautiful salads and homemade bread. Lentils are great because of their versatility and just 1 cup of them has 18 grams of protein!

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3. Pack Extra Umami Flavor - Chef Leslie Pollock

When I do vegan cooking I make sure to pack lots of umami flavors - shiitake, dried/roasted tomato, pickled veggies, garlic, fresh herbs, ume boshi, etc.

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4. Go Indian! - Chef Shuchi Mittal Naidoo

Going Indian makes it super easy to add so much flavor and spice to a full vegetarian meal.

Like these tips? Share with your friends and add your own thoughts!


7 Most Beautiful Pictures of Salmon Ever

We are proud to be a Brooklyn company, but lately we’ve been living in a Seattle state of mind. And with that, we’ve been thinking a lot about salmon. From Nova Scotia to Norwegian, King salmon to Sockeye - the varieties of salmon are vast and range greatly from coast to coast.  

No matter from where the fish is sourced, or how it’s prepared, the pale pink fish is beautiful. And here we have the 7 most beautiful pictures of salmon. From both coasts.

1. Pecan-Crusted BBQ Copper River Salmon from chef Laura Taylor, Seattle

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2. Seared Salmon with Persimmons, Arugula, and Espelette Oil from chef Boris Dubnov, NYC

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3. Pan-seared, Crisp Skin Coho Salmon with Fresh Lima Beans Sauteéd with Garlic, Chive, and Cilantro from chef Marta Fowlie, LA

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4. Coriander and Fennel Crusted Salmon from chef Tarik Abdullah, Seattle

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5. Pan Roasted Salmon on Brussel Sprouts and Beets from chef Carolina Johnson, LA

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6. Salmon, beets, fennel, raspberry from chef Daniel Benhaim, LA

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7. Salmon, Curry Cauliflower and Lemon Lentil Pureé form chef Matthew Harker, Boston

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We’ll be sitting here dreaming about salmon. You can go ahead and peruse some epic seafood menus from the talented Kitchensurfing chefs in your city.


Inside the Kitchensurfing Seattle Test Kitchen

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One of the best parts about launching new Kitchensurfing cities is meeting the very first chefs we work with and tasting their food. It’s the best way to get a sense of a city’s culinary identity and to hear the stories of the people who make up local food communities.

For our Seattle launch, we opened that process up to some of our early fans. They got the chance to help vet our first class of Seattle chefs, behind the scenes, as part of our Test Kitchen series. Thanks to their help and honest feedback, these chefs are now out in the field cooking Kitchensurfing meals for Seattleites.

Here’s a sneak peek at 5 of our Seattle Test Kitchens:

1. Three Courses for a Food Critic, with Tom Rhyneer

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Nicole Sprinkle is the Food + Drink Editor for Seattle Weekly, and an avid dinner party host. For her first Kitchensurfing meal, she hosted a Test Kitchen with chef Tom Rhyneer, who created a three-course menu for six adults — and a modified menu for two hungry seven-year-olds.

Chef Tom has been cooking professionally for almost twenty years. He creates simple, seasonal, farm-to-table inspired by the flavors of the American South and Pacific Northwest, and takes pride in growing his own vegetables and herbs.

In her review for Seattle Weekly, Nicole described Tom’s dishes as hitting all the right notes: from “just the right touch of truffle oil” in the corn chowder served with sea scallops, to the “bright pop” of arugula pistou with lamb chops, and the stone fruit with maple-chipotle sabayon for dessert (“what could be better?”).

The food was great, but Tom’s ability to serve a delicious meal for a food-savvy dinner party, while attending to the culinary needs of two kids (“would they like their brownies warm?”) was the unexpected highlight. You don’t need a babysitter when a chef goes the extra mile to make you and your family feel at home, at home.

Read Nicole’s full recap here.

Photo by Anna Erickson for Seattle Weekly


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.