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Now in Chicago, Kitchensurfing Aims to Provide a Different Dining Experience

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Photo: Kitchensurfing

Picture an underground dining club. Now picture one in your environment, with your friends, where you choose the chef, price, and what you want to eat. That's sort of what Kitchensurfing is like, the service that pairs professional chefs with any of your events. It's in New York, Boston, Berlin, the Hamptons, and now Chicago.

What's the difference between Kitchensurfing and other home chef services, you might ask? "There are definitely agencies that have been around for a while that do that kind of thing," CEO and co-founder Chris Muscarella explains, "but they don't really do things on an internet kind of scale. We're the first one to really try to get every chef in the country a Kitchensurfing profile."

Here's how Kitchensurfing works: you have any event or meal and you need a chef. You indicate number of guests, budget, they'll suggest a chef from the roster (there's 50 available now in Chicago) and you choose one. You customize the menu and book it. The price can run from $12 for an office lunch to "sky's the limit." It's your choice.

What types of chefs are on the roster? President (and Eater co-founder) Ben Leventhal calls Kitchensurfing "a lab for chefs" that are in between gigs, to cut their teeth, meet investors, and to gain exposure. They hope to build chefs' reputations. "We're giving chefs a platform," Leventhal says.

Any type of cuisine or event is a possibility. In New York, Kitchensurfing chefs cooked for a "naked sushi" event and an Arrested Development-themed dinner. Customers review chefs, and vice versa, which the Kitchensurfing braintrust hopes ensures satisfaction in both parties.

Restaurants usually provide diners with an established reputation—patrons usually know what they're going to get. Kitchensurfing chefs can be unknown to their customers. Muscarella and Leventhal believe their chefs, and company, will establish a reputation in Chicago as well.

But the idea goes back to the experience, they say. "Having a Kitchensurfing experience in your home is not as much about the food," Muscarella says. "By taking the restaurant experience out of it, it makes for a more intimate dining experience."
·Kitchensurfing Chicago [Official Site]