Welcome back to Alternative Dining, a monthly column by Jen Chiu that explores the unconventional dining and drinking scene in Seattle, whether that be pop-up, food truck, gastro-brewpub or underground dinner party. Got a suggestion? Leave it in the comments or send it to the tipline.[Photos: S. Pratt]
Instead of pulling a Portlandia where you annoy the wait staff by asking where they source their meat or if the vegetables were happy before they were yanked from the ground, ChefSteps offers you an opportunity to just cook a feast on your own. ChefSteps, offering free online courses on how to make anything from cocktails to main courses, elevates cooking from a mundane obligatory survival task to a fun scientific adventure.
Whether you want to learn about "spherification", the science of poutine, or how to make the perfect fish and chips with Methylcellulose F50, the talented founders (alums from Nathan Myhrvold's six-volume 2,400-page masterpiece, Modernist Cuisine) will stimulate your brain and your taste buds.
Chefsteps.com is conveniently segmented in three levels: easy, intermediate, and advanced. Looking how to make one dish in particular and don't see it on their site? Participate in the ChefSteps poll, where you can vote for new courses.
You don't have to be a techy molecular gastronomy geek to find a recipe that suits your needs, although according to ChefSteps, they definitely have a cult following among males in their 20s-30s.
Co-founder and head of Research & Development Grant Crilly has always been fascinated by how things are constructed. Growing up, his mom was a fabric designer and his dad's side of the family comes from a long line of ship builders. Crilly started cooking when he was 14. His adventures took him to Paris when he was 19 where he worked for chefs such as Pierre Herme, and was subsequently recruited to open a French-inspired restaurant in Mumbai, India where he stayed for 10 months. He was also the Chef de Cuisine at Mistral. Crilly has an endless list of accomplishments and experiences that would make anyone feel both inspired and tired just hearing them.
How does one accomplish so much and not even hit middle age yet? Crilly: "I'm not a guy who likes time off. I work 7 days a week because I want to."
If this way of eating at home isn't convincing, here are Crilly's picks for eating out: Fuji Sushi and The Independent Pizzeria are two of his go-to spots. He also adores the salmon crostini at Spur and the agedashi mochi at Tsukushinbo.