Minutes after a ribbon wrapped cooler marked ChefX was delivered to my door, son numba two called me from Halifax. He was off to a pot luck, a belated-Thanksgiving dinner party and in charge of vegetables. Girls were hosting the potluck. That bit seemed to matter. He wanted to do a big pan of roasted vegetables but couldn’t remember if it was olive oil or vegetable oil or butter I used. And at what temperature to roast and for how long. And what vegetables best. And what size the cut. And did they all need to be peeled and would they all be ready at the same time. He only had an hour before the event was that long enough…
I’m not proud. Clearly I failed somewhere. But let me also tell you that those emergency phone calls about cooking – and he’s not tweeting me or texting me or facebooking me, he’s calling me – are hugely precious. Sometimes I put him on speaker phone just to hear him peeling parsnips. If he were a competent cook I’d never hear from him. So there’s that…
So I had Sam in mind when unpacking the ChefX cooler. Were these two recipes – both from local chefs and both deemed ‘Intermediate’ level in terms of proficiency in the kitchen – ones he could master. And for the most part, possibly with the aid of a call or two, I think he could. And would. And if he managed to get through them, his reward would be delicious. For these two dishes were that.
ChefX is a new company. I don’t know much about it, to be honest, nor do I have a clue if it will take off, but I think it’s brilliant. I believe it works like this: ChefX partners with celebrated local chefs for recipes, buys and in most cases, portions out the ingredients, seals it all up with the recipes in binder-ready plastic sheaths, provides plenty of ice packs, and delivers it to your door.
My test box was on the house. But it would have cost $59 otherwise. It yielded dinner for three last night, with leftovers for lunch today for my husband, son numba four – equally incompetent – and me. I think it was meant for two, but there was lots of food.
The recipes came courtesy of Marysol Foucault of Edgar (“Lemony Leek Lamb with Zucchini and Yoghurt”) and The Urban Element (“Pan Seared Chicken Breast with Tomato Caper Vinaigrette and Celeriac Mash”). There were easy to follow directions, photos of mis-en-place, illustrations of kitchen tools required, all ingredients but for a few staples, wine pairing suggestion and a sweet little note on why the chef chose that particular recipe and what she likes about it.
So yes, you are paying to cook. But cooking is the fun part. The not fun part – coming up with a dinner idea, parking and shopping and lugging home dinner idea, discovering you forgot a key ingredient for dinner idea – has been done for you.
Each week, a new chef, a new recipe. Check out the ChefX website for all the details.
And when they set up a branch in Halifax, I’ll be sending the kid regular despatches. Local Halifax chefs, local ingredients, local recipes, hand delivered and (AND) teaching a kid to cook. Complete, perhaps, with emergency phone call to his mother. Almost priceless.