Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Saturday, January 22

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Review Thu Nov 21 2013

Umami in My Kitchen

Have you ever wanted to host a dinner party in your home, but not worry about the actual cooking or cleaning up after? Perhaps you've wanted a personal chef for a special night but haven't known where to start? Enter - bringing you chefs with vision and talent, for whatever reason you might need one.

My partner and I picked a date, invited 8 friends over, pushed together our dining room and office tables, and gave them our list of food restrictions (pescatarian, coconut allergy). In our case, the Kitchensurfing team picked our chef, and they could not have made a more perfect choice. I communicated with Chef Carlos Dalisay via the Kitchensurfing website, and he came up with menu ideas and we narrowed things down; we also discussed what my kitchen did or didn't have, and what he could expect. I warned him it was vintage Chicago (no dishwasher, no counter space other than our Costco stainless steel island we bought for a song), and that we didn't have 10 matching plates or bowls (he said he would bring his own). While Chef Carlos has a regular gig as a chef de partie (sushi chef) at a steak house in the city, he definitely has his own personal style, and this side hustle is a fantastic way to showcase his talent.

On the day of the dinner, Chef Carlos and his team showed up about an hour before our agreed upon dinner time, as he'd done a large amount of prep work at his own home; they surveyed the kitchen they had to work with, got set up, and got to work. Friends trickled in with bottles of wine, and we hung out in the living/dining room area with my polite-as-she's-capable-of-being-in-the-presence-of-fish dog. All the humans were welcome to peek in on the action when they wanted, and before long it was dinner time.

Photos of the prep and dinner after the jump, courtesy of Belen Aquino.




Ahi Poke - Fresh sliced radish, seaweed, microgreens



(a not-on-the-menu surprise - raw oysters with ponzu gelee, dashi, roe)


Umami Soup - Shiitake mushroom broth, pickled daikon, seared tofu


Arugula Octopus Salad - Miso dressing, octopus, thinly sliced radish pickled red onion, roasted cherry tomato, micro greens


Pan-Seared Salmon - Soy ginger glaze, couscous, roasted root vegetables


Asian Pear with Green Tea Ice Cream - Asian pear poached with vanilla, a la mode green tea ice cream cookie crumbs, fresh berries, mint


Ultimately I don't think we could've asked for a better chef. At the end of the night, the question of which dish did I like best was difficult to answer - the salmon was cooked perfectly, the variety of flavors and textures in the arugula octopus salad was wonderful, the umami soup impressed a friend who would never eat tofu on his own.

In case my recommendation and the photos weren't enticing enough, Kitchensurfing has graciously offered Gapers Block readers a coupon code for $75 off your first chef booking.

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Dan R / November 21, 2013 11:31 AM

I was one of the lucky 8 to attend this party. It was really incredible. You don't often get to be so close to such talented chefs as they make the food. Loved it!

Amber / November 21, 2013 12:28 PM

It was one of the most fun dinners I've been a part of. Your group was loads of fun. I would hang out with you guys anytime.

Jen / December 3, 2013 11:42 AM

In case anyone got shut out trying to use the coupon - there are more codes and they are valid until February 1, 2014!

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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