Chef Daniel Boulud told me that the most lavish meals he’s enjoyed recently were served not in a restaurant, but in a friend’s kitchen.
“I have a friend who has a small apartment, and he can cook me a 10-course meal. …That is luxury for me. That is true luxury because I am the only one who is having the privilege of having him do that for me,” he said.
But if you don’t have a friend who can whip up Michelin-star-quality meals in their kitchenette, never fear. Some of New York’s most inspired cooks are increasingly willing to come to you.
Ambitious chefs have begun to eschew restaurant ownership, the traditional path to culinary stardom. Instead, they are cooking privately, hosting haute cuisine dinners — either in their own homes or in the homes of their clients — and the results are really something special.
“With the high cost of rent, staff and food,
a young chef’s creativity is often [held] hostage.”
—Chef Yann Nury
“With the cost of rent, staff and food rising in NYC, a young chef’s creativity is often hostage to those overheads. I refused to let my search for quality and perfection be imprisoned by those numbers,” Yann Nury, a private chef who specializes in highly personalized, experience-focused dinners, told LLNYC. He added that by working “off premises” (i.e., not in a restaurant), he is able to “roam free” in his “search for excellence.”
In a private setting, the chef can focus on the tastes of their guests. It also makes it possible for the chef to seek out ingredients that are too rare or costly for restaurants, which never know exactly what a guest will order.
To get up to speed on who the city’s food-obsessed one-percenters are tapping for their intimate dinner parties, I spoke with Bicé Grobstein, the founder and CEO of the concierge service Concierge Redefined. She recommends the following cooks for your next dinner party.
Chef Phoebe Lapine
About: Lapine offers a private, interactive dinner in which guests can choose to prepare a portion of the meal and learn tricks of the trade.
Price (party of two): $400 and up
Specialty: Moroccan tagine
Education: Brown University
Fun facts: Lapine runs “Feed Me Phoebe,” which Food & Wine magazine named a top food blog. Her forthcoming memoir is “The Wellness Project.”
Chef Nira Kehar
About: Kehar’s namesake brasserie, Chez Nini, is located in Mehar Chand Market, the hip shopping area in Delhi, India.
Price (party of two): $750 and up
Specialty: Kehar ties the practices of Ayurveda — one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems — into her specially curated menus.
Education: Institut de Tourisme et d’Hôtellerie du Québec
Chef Yann Nury
About: Nury operates a full-service catering company focused on a highly curated food experiences.
Price for dinner (party of six or more): $3,500 and up
Specialty: “Poussin” breast with truffles, served with confit porcinis, wings confit and consommé of the roasted bones
Education: Institut Paul Bocuse in Lyon, France
Fun fact: Recently created caviar dishes for Naomi Campbell’s big birthday bash — using more than 10 pounds of caviar.
Chef David Kirschner
About: Kirschner owns and runs a boutique private-dining company that specializes in custom culinary experiences. He was the executive chef at Tasting Table, a prestigious test kitchen in Soho and was the private dining chef for Daniel Boulud’s Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud. He helped create Bar Boulud’s “Nose to Tail” menu.
Price (party of two): $475 and up
Specialty: Bucatini Carbonara with guanciale, a farm egg and pecorino frico
Education: Johnson & Wales University
Fun fact: Loves charcuterie but grew up kosher.
Chef Jill Donenfeld of The Culinistas
About: The Culinistas is a boutique private-chef agency in business since 2006, that supplies private chefs for weekly services, dinners and full-time arrangements.
Price (for parties of eight or more): $1,025 and up
Specialty: Family-style meals
Education: Barnard College
Fun facts: Donenfeld has written three cookbooks and produces high-quality bottarga for Eataly and top NYC restaurants.
Chef Flynn McGarry
About: McGarry is a 17-year-old chef whose 12-seat pop-up restaurant Eureka in NYC ended in January. He was named one of the top 25 most influential teens by Time magazine.
Price (party of two): $600 and up
Specialty: Three-week-aged beet with wilted beet greens and a beet “bordelaise”
Philosophy: “Get the best-tasting raw ingredients and prepare them to be even better.”
Fun fact: “Even though beets are one of my signature dishes, I don’t like eating them.”