Michelin-starred Chef Curtis Stone has been taking over the food world with his hot spot restaurants, cook books, television shows, and signature products. Next, the Aussie chef’s latest and honestly greatest and brilliant undertaking will be landing in your own backyard (or kitchen). Gathar offers personally-curated menus cooked in person by skilled and vetted chefs from various culinary backgrounds who come to you, taking care of each detail—from everything needed to cook and serve to the post-party clean up.
Since you get to call the shots on the menu (hoping for a Thai Chef? You got it!) it’s ideal for anything from that little afternoon BBQ or dinner shindig you were planning to throw, themed event, or if you’d rather be actually hosting your kid’s pool party than stand over a smoking grill in the scorching sun all afternoon. The incredulous part is it’s both relatively affordable and attainable, with charcuterie tables and appetizer packages starting from $35 per person, and sit-down menus from $105 per person. In short, it’s the uber of the private chef experience.
Below, Chef Stone talks all things Gathar and even spills the beans on some of his favorite BBQ tips, cocktails, and grilling techniques.
How did the idea for Gathar come about?
I’ve gotta be honest, it wasn’t my idea. It started in Australia, and when I heard about it, it was like a lightbulb moment because I’d thought about it a hundred times, but didn’t quite put it all together. I like to think of it like life before Uber. If you were gonna go out, you had two options: you could either get a taxi, which was horrible—especially if you live in LA, or you could hire a town car. And that was just so expensive. I felt the same way about this—and this is coming from a guy that owns a private event company. If I’d have one of my kids’ birthdays or if I barbecued or whatever, I’d get my events team to come in and help me. And people always used to ask if I did this for other people? And I’d think to myself, yeah, but it would cost them an arm and a leg to get it done if they were just having a small little casual sort of a thing. So there was this gap in the market and Gathar put it all together.
They connect a chef with somebody that wants to throw a little party or host a little dinner, and that chef is looking for a little bit of work and the host is looking for the help from a chef. And it’s this quick, simple, easy-to-use thing that takes care of that little gap in the market.
Is Gathar a full-service company? Or does the host need to provide anything, like a grill for example?
It can be either. And that’s where the concierge part of Gathar is really useful because you basically reach out to Gathar and say this is what I want, I’ve got a little apartment, or I’ve got a giant house; I’ve got all the cooking equipment, or I have none. You tell them what it is you want and what it is that you’ve got. And by the way, just because you have it doesn’t mean you want to use it. You might want them to come in and bring their own equipment and take it away with them. It’s totally up to you. And then Gathar takes your requirements and matches you to the culinarian that best fits your needs within your local area. And that might be specific around the menu—if you want Thai food, they’ll call a Thai chef or someone that specializes in that cuisine, and the same with the other requirements for your dinner.
The other way to go is you have a look at the different menus that are already on the site, and you read one that you like, and they go and find that chef that can execute that menu. And again, it can be any type of event you want. It can be a canopy party. It can be what we call a grazing table, where you set up a big grazing table and you can do that by the foot. It can be a dinner party and, of course, the way we entertain a lot here in Southern California is grilling and being outdoors, so there’s a ton of that as well.
What’s your personal favorite go-to barbecue dish or grilling dish?
I’m an Aussie and we eat a lot of lamb, and I happen to own a butcher shop [LA’s popular Gwen, so I think I can get my hands on really good quality stuff, but I’ll quite often cook a whole joint of lamb on a barbecue. I’ll either do a shoulder or a hind leg, and I’ll really slowly grill it or barbecue it, so it gets really smoky and delicious, and then I’ll slice it. Not everyone likes lamb, so I’ve always got some good steak around as well. We have these beautiful big Wagyu Tomahawk chops at the butcher shop that I will grab as well. So yeah, it’s hard to say, I cook lots of stuff on the grill.
Your cocktail of choice on such occasions?
My wife makes a mean margarita. I know that’s pretty simple, but I like that. I like a whiskey sour as well.
Any favored grilling equipment that you would suggest using?
The most important thing is the grill itself. With a charcoal-burning grill, you’ll get a lot more character in the flavor of the meats and seafood that you’re grilling, because that charcoal creates a delicious smoke. A wood fire grill is wonderful too. And of course, for the equipment, you want tongs that are a little bit longer, so you can stay away from the heat source. A good grill brush is really underrated because if you don’t have one, you’re in real trouble. You need a good brush to be able to keep your grill clean at all times. You don’t want to build up a fat or sort of char on the grill.
So, the idea that one shouldn’t fully scrub down and clean their grill because that’s what adds to the flavor of the burgers—the years and years of meat that sizzled on the grill—is a fallacy?
I think so. I mean, look, it depends on what kind of grill you have. If you have a cast-iron grill, then yeah, you can get some of that patina that’s cooked onto the grill and that sort of creates a non-stick surface. But I still think you should scrub your grill. I still think that you need a wire brush and you should clean it off. And, of course, when you’re cooking meat that has fat in it, that fat will render out and will then cause the grill to flare, and you don’t really want that flare because that singes the meat. What you want is that heat coming from the charcoal or the smokiness rather than the flame.
What’s next for the Curtis Stone Empire? Is there anything that we should know about?
No. Netflix just launched with Iron Chef, and I’m one of them. So that was a very exciting moment and we’re waiting to see if we’re going to be doing more of that. That was a lot of fun. But now I’m busy with Gwen and Maude in LA, and we’re busy working on a few other projects, so I’m happy with my lot.
Gathar is currently available in Los Angeles and most major cities in Australia.
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