Have you ever wanted to see what goes on behind the scenes in the ChefSteps development kitchen? Now you can. We’ve got a new live stream. Check it out and let us know what you think.
If you’re looking for a great gift for the culinary aficionado in your life, we have a lot to offer, but we also want to share some different gift ideas based on the multiple interests of our founders and other team members.
If the person you’re shopping for is a fan of learning new and better ways of cooking (and has an inner mad scientist), they’ll get a big kick out of experimenting with one of our new Modernist Pantry spherification kits. Our online spherification course is free and our videos offer easy step-by-step demonstrations, plus there is plenty of expert support from our friendly culinary community if things go awry. We also have a list of Kitchen Tools and Equipment Under $99 at our store along with other great gift ideas like our House Rub 01.
When Grant Crilly isn’t wearing a chef’s apron, he’s rocking some freediving gear and pursuing a fresh seafood dinner. There are no complaints from any of us at ChefSteps, as we’ve been the recipients of amazing fish and chips, fish tacos, and fresh fish for own grills at home. Here is Grant’s list of freediving/spearfishing gear from the guys at Sporasub America: dive suit, fins, mask, dive watch, and speargun.
Following the dive buddy rule, somebody has to keep an eye on Grant, and who better to do that than Ryan Matthew Smith with his GoPro HERO3. Check out this underwater shot captured during one of Grant and Ryan’s recent spearfishing adventures.
If you’ve got a grilling/bbq fanatic in your midst, we suggest you consider the item on Chris Young’s wish list, a fire proximity suit. In this photo, he’s wearing a suit borrowed from friend, Rusty Oliver of HazardFactory, but since Chris is a “go big or go home” believer when it comes to fire, we’re all interested in him having his own suit. If your favorite chef needs protection from similar grilling flare-ups, you might want to wrap one of these up for them.
Our audio director, Hans Twite, performs a dual role with his mad skills as composer of soundtracks for ChefSteps videos and resident bartender. He could really use a tool belt to hold the Zoom H4n 4-Channel Handy Recorder (perfect for capturing family stories) and the Bernzomatic TS8000BT High Intensity Torch Head for charring cinnamon sticks for a Churchill’s Breakfast cocktail.
On a quieter front, our CTO and kimchi provider, Michael Natkin, stays busy producing thousands of lines of code on our behalf. We happily provide him with endless cups of rocket fuel when he’s here at ChefSteps, but since there’s very little time for sleep when aiming for lofty startup goals, we’re hoping that the aroma of coffee brewing at home comes from a Technivorm Moccamaster and the pungent odor of his latest batch of kimchi stays put in a Harsch Gartopf Fermenting Crock Pot.
Ed Starbird, our director of business operations, is a fan of the UP by Jawbone. UP is a system, wristband + mobile app, that tracks sleep, physical activity and food intake so you can make smarter choices and feel your best. We’re all witnesses of Ed’s tireless activity on behalf of ChefSteps and if the UP takes a few things off his tracking list and helps him out, we’re all for it!
Chris, Grant, Ryan, and the rest of the ChefSteps team
Hey we missed a weeknote, but that’s because we were super-busy last week getting things ready for spherification, which we rolled out on Monday! I’m going to let Chris Young do the heavy-lifting on talking about the spheres course sometime soon, but for now, just wanted to highlight a few things from the design-side that we introduced along with the new course.
Hey, look at my profile! Lots of new features on this page:
- A new bio picture for you to upload your photo and make the site a little more community-oriented.
- Badges – We have two so far with plenty more coming. It’s a fun thing to do for us, and we have lots of ideas of new ones to come. I modeled the knife for the Stay Sharp badge after one of Grant’s knives. It’s pretty badass.
- Course progress – Any course you enroll in from now on should show up here and if you leave the course in the middle of it, just go back to your profile to pick up where you left off. Should be handy for the longer courses (looking at you, sous vide).
- Uploads – If you’ve finished the spherification course already (or you look at the course landing page where we highlight student creations), you’ll notice that we’re now offering the ability for you good folks to show off the delicious nosh you’ve been making. You can also like everyone’s photos there and comment! I noticed Brendan has even pushed a recipe into the uploads… Nice one.
- Timeline – Just to show all the activity you’ve done on the site and when you joined! Obviously, as we add more features, those events will be captured here and we hope to be able to give you a good place to see all the things you (and your buddies on ChefSteps) have been up to.
Oh yeah, you’ve probably also noticed those billboards. We’ve got the new one for the spheres on the front page with spheres dropping. I think it’s pretty sweet and kind of mesmerizing; I’ll be staring at it all weekend.
Phew. A lot of stuff. It’s been a great week, guys. Hope you thought so too. More excitement next week. Have a good one!
Another week here at ChefSteps and there’s a lot of new stuff going on. First of all: We made our goal for the t-shirts! Thanks to everyone for buying one (or three). If you missed out, don’t fret—it’s possible it’ll make a comeback someday if you demand it. And you will. Oh yes, you will. <whisper>chefsteps!</whisper>
We’re working on some big things coming up in the next couple of weeks—stay tuned! In the meantime, we’ve had a lot of good recipes come through, more than I can recall and more than I actually got to taste, but I can’t reiterate enough how damn good the fish and chips were. The fries alone are amazing and I kept eating them even though they were over-salted for the camera. Do yourself a favor and make some.
Since I came on as a designer here, I’ve been trying to familiarize myself with the store, make it easier to navigate and add some fun stuff that we find useful. If there’s anything that we’re using that you’re curious about, please ask us. We’re working on sourcing some other things that are hard to find, so keep an eye out for that as well.
Another thing I’ve been working on: Did you know you can scale recipes on our recipe pages? Click on any recipe and you can click into any quantity and change it and everything will scale automatically with it. It’s a little-known feature right now, and we’ve been working hard at making it more obvious and at the same time unobtrusive and useable.
Hey folks, have a good weekend and enjoy the holiday (for those in the States). See you next week!
A new day, a new design. Hi, everybody. I’m Tim and I do design here at ChefSteps. I took a couple days to clean up the blog design over here so figured I’d might as well throw a new post up as well. As you can probably tell, we’ve been working on a lot of new things over on the main ChefSteps.com site as well over the past few weeks: features, designs, and improvements. We are stoked and ready to go, we have a ton more stuff we’d like to roll out soon!
We’ve been doing a lot of experiments on the website, and we’ll be doing more to test and see what you guys find most helpful (Also, please tell us!). If you have any questions, comments, or general feedback about the website, we’d love to hear it. In the meantime, enjoy the minimalist quiet of our new blog design!
We like to go around and whisper chefsteps! every once in a while; it’s really fun to say and I think it’s a great way to inception ourselves into the public. Try it! Go ahead, I’ll wait.
One last thing: We have a t-shirt! We’re selling it at teespring.com/chefsteps and are so close to our goal! It ends tomorrow, so please spread the word! Thanks!
ChefSteps has come a long way in the past few months. Our sous vide course is closing in on the half-way mark, the forums are a hive of community activity, and we’ve created our first food product. Our team is continuing to push the limits of what’s possible in the kitchen, and figuring out new ways to share our fascination with the how’s and why’s of cooking using our skills as writers, photographers, musicians, and filmmakers. We’ve hired our second software engineer and continue to build out the site and the course; look for some great new features soon.
Taking a step back from all of that activity, we are headed toward a larger vision. We want to bring culinary education into the modern era, and use science to help you make your cooking more delicious and enjoyable than ever before.
We are ready to add another piece to this puzzle: a great designer that can help us make the website look and function in a way that does justice to that larger mission. Everyone here has tremendous respect for the work of designers. We know that a great designer doesn’t just make pretty pictures. They make or break the entire experience that the community has with your content. A great design enhances great information, makes it easy to find what you want, and directs you to things you didn’t yet know you wanted, all while being almost invisible.
Could you be the designer we are looking for? Or do you know someone who is? Here’s how to tell:
- The pace of work at ChefSteps is breakneck. You are comfortable with that pace, with surfing uncertainty and refining on the fly. We believe in iteration, not immaculate conception.
- You are a switchblade. You are equally capable of contemplating the information design of a meal timeline in a PDF ebook, designing a logo from scratch, figuring out what variations of a landing page we should test, or creating a new template for our weekly emails.
- You know how to strike a balance between beauty and functionality. Beautiful pixels are important. Beautiful pixels that serve their intended purpose are golden. (Well, actually a lot of times they are #ffffff.)
- You are both strategic and tactical. You’ll help hold the big picture of what we are trying to accomplish over the next several years, but will also be very happy to get into the nitty-gritty of what needs to get done right now.
- You have a modern, minimalist aesthetic that will work well with our photos and video.
- Working with a world-class interdisciplinary team in startup mode isn’t intimidating, it is your idea of a great time.
- If you are able to do some HTML and CSS yourself, in addition to handing over pictures to implement, that’s a great thing.
- If you have a love of food and cooking, it couldn’t hurt.
- If you live in Seattle, we’d love to have you on-site, but we’ll consider remote work if you can spend some time with us getting started.
Sound like a dream job to you? Got the skills? We’d like to talk with you. To start the conversation, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with:
- A link to your portfolio or to one or more sites where we can see what you’ve built. If it was a collaborative effort, let us know what is yours.
- A paragraph or two about why you think you’d be a great fit.
- Take a look at the existing chefsteps.com and suggest 1 to 3 things that you think should be the highest priority to improve.
We look forward to hearing from you, and please send this post to anyone you think might be interested!
So we occasionally get up to some elaborate DIY exploits that involve cooking, fire, and metal fabrication. We’ve staged some pretty large exploits in the last couple of years (we’ll be sharing some photos from those events soon), but I thought some of you might be interested in the relatively small one we threw together for a holiday celebration last Saturday night.
The Construction Phase
We dubbed the device “The Gaggle Roaster.” It’s a rotisserie spit that can carry half a dozen geese, each one dangling by its legs. We did this so the weight of the bird would stretch the skin taut, and so that we would get radiant heat shining over the entire surface of the bird. This ensured evenly cooked birds with really crispy skin, which was a major goal. Each bird rotated at about 2 rpm. We geared it so the birds would counter-rotate, which means that each bird rotated in the opposite direction of the one next to it—there was no good reason for this other than it looked cool.
I sketched out the idea for this about a week prior to the party. Our group of makers — including several of our friends at Furlong Fortnight Bureau — gathered to rapidly build and test the device at our friend Rusty Oliver’s shop (The Hazardfactory) between the hours of 5 pm and 3 am.
Our constructors included Neal Stephenson, myself (Chris Young), Rusty Oliver, Nathan Pegram, Daniel MacDonald, and Larry Felser.
We also fabricated a giant roasting pan, complete with our own custom gas manifolds to roast some vegetables to go with our geese. On full blast, this is probably something like a 500,000 BTU/hr stove top.
The Party Phase
Here are some photos from the actual gaggle-roast. No sous vide was involved, we went old-school — like 16th century British old-school.
Basic Cooking Method:
- Build a linear chain-driven, counter-rotating rotisserie spit that will suspend half a flock of birds.
- Build a large hearth with high emissivity material (firebrick is ideal)
- Build a very large fire that is at least 25% longer than the length of the spit, so that the ends of the spit see as much glowing infrared energy as the center.
- Once firebrick is warmed up, suspend birds and begin roasting. Surface temperature of birds should settle around 160 °F / 71 °C until core temperature of bird reaches something like 140 °F / 60 °C.
- For the final sear, move the geese closer to the fire and turn up the intensity of the radiant heat by blasting large volumes of air at the fire. A leaf blower or Shop-Vac blown in reverse will do nicely.
- Once the surface temperature of the birds reaches something like 270 °F / 132 °C, remove the birds and let them rest for 10 minutes.
- Carve and serve with a giant pan filled with choucroute and new potatoes.
Here are some photos that Ryan grabbed during the event:
And, yes, this was really delicious.
Hope you all had a wonderful holiday — Chris, Grant, Ryan and the rest of the ChefSteps team.
We Run A Clean Kitchen, But Our High Speed Video Studio Was A Hot Mess!
Last week, the ChefSteps team and some of their friends (Neal Stephenson, Pablos Holman, Kevin Finke, and Rusty Oliver to name a few) made a mess. Not a little mess — an epic high speed video mess.
Grant Crilly demonstrates how to make applesauce with a mallet.
As of Monday morning, every cleaning tool had been put to good use to restore ChefSteps to its pre-shoot condition and the room was abuzz with snippets of conversation about the best things that had happened over the weekend. We’ll be rolling out some of those best things in time, but meanwhile, here’s a photo sampler from the weekend for your enjoyment.
Ryan Matthew Smith disappears into a floury cloud.
Neal Stephenson sneaks up on a cantaloupe
with his longsword by Angus Trim.
Grant Crilly loads up a satsuma for the ride of its life.
From L-R: Ryan Matthew Smith, Nathan Pegram, Hans’ cousin, Greg Mattson, and Hans Twite look on in amazement. What are they looking at?
Module 2: Preparation of our Sous Vide Cooking Course is in production and we could really use your input in several areas. Within the course, we plan on taking you through many aspects of food preparation including:
- The importance of organization and working clean
- The importance of working by weight
- The efficiency of a scale
- Trimming and portioning
- Seasonings, brines, and marinades
- Tips and tricks
We would love to know if there are any aspects of food preparation that confound, annoy or keep you from cooking all together. What could you really use help with?
Also, do you have any favorite aspects of food prep that you truly enjoy (chop onions, boil water) or any favorite tips that you’d like to share?
In addition to teaching you the ins and outs of sous vide, we also want to deepen your understanding of the science of great cooking and share with you the skills that will ensure excellent results. The more input from you, the better we can do our job of providing you with a great curriculum. So please, jump right in by commenting on this post, or even better, signing up on the ChefSteps Forum and joining the discussion.
Chris, Grant, Ryan and the rest of the ChefSteps Team
Friends helping friends.
The kitchen team at ChefSteps had a pretty crazy week getting ready for New York. It’s no small feat serving even 2 dishes 2400 miles from home for 60 guests, no wait, the count is now 78…aw, perfect! 6L of centrifuged strawberry broth, 120 topped and trimmed quail eggshells (Thanks to Trissa who cut them all open to exactly a 0.7 inch, then carefully cleaned, sanitized, dried, and packed them for travel), 3 kg of candied navy beans (bomb!), 7L of fromage blanc sorbet, 150 perfectly round passion fruit spheres (thank you, Nick), 2 heads of celery — vacuum compressed in centrifuged green apple juice … you get the idea.
Of course, we can only prep so much and be so prepared. But when things go wrong, well, that’s what friends are for. Once we arrived onsite at the Riverpark restaurant for Tim Ferris’ The 4-Hour Chef book launch, Ben and I quickly set up and arranged our tools. Mental check list: set up borrowed Paco Jet, freeze ice cream base in beakers, count out plates and place in fridge, check quail egg shells for damage … I soon realize that we’ve forgotten something pretty important. “Where’s the liquid nitrogen? Damn! Don’t panic, our friend Wylie Dufresne can save us!” Without hesitating, I text the New York Godfather of Modern Techniques and ask for some cold liquid gold. He tells me:
So that’s exactly what we did. Once we had our “dewar”, we cabbed it over to Clinton Street to wd~50 and freeloaded what we could fit in our cheap little vessel. The loud cracking and snapping noise was not a reassuring sound when we were filling it up. “Is it breaking?” Wylie shrugs while further opening up the valve to get the liquid really flowing. “It definitely sounds like it,” I replied back. “Eh … should be fine,” he said. I have had accidents while doing this before, especially in cars, and I was about to get back into a crowded cab. You gotta take risks, you know!
Ben and I obviously had very little faith in the dewar (it’s now officially a dewar) so we used the contents up for cryo-shattering some berries as soon as we arrived back at the Riverpark kitchen, popped them in the freezer and saved them for service. They looked beautiful and tasted amazing so it was all worth it for the ChefSteps crew.
Thanks a million, Wylie.
P.S. More on how awesome Wylie is another time.