Making Sushi In A NYC Kitchen With A Professional Chef

The first time I made sushi, it went great. My BFF and I were at the Borgata doing it up with Michael Schulson. The second time I tried it, it was through one of those boxed services that gave horrible directions and my fiancé, and I just made a hot mess. This time, we had the pleasure of welcoming chef Jordan Chestnut of the new private-chef service Cozymeal into our home to teach us.

Among the most valuable things I learned — aside from how to properly de-skin salmon and mahi mahi, the fact that younger sushi rice requires less washing, and that it's the starch of the rice that makes it sticky, not the vinegar — was the following:

  1. It is super easy to peel ginger using only a spoon. Mind blown.
  2. To make shrimp tempura, the shrimp have to be stretched a certain way, and you have to make three precise cuts on each side along a diagonal — not too deep — then pull it taught, before frying it in the batter you make from scratch, flicking extra batter into the pan once you've started frying the coated shrimp. There is no chance I will ever do this again.
  3. In addition to wetting your hands to make sure the sushi rice won't stick to them, you also need to wet your knife to cut it, and give it a swift single cut—when you saw at it, it gets mushy. Chef's trick: keep a wet paper towel handy, so you don't have to keep running it under water.
  4. If you chop with the knuckles of your opposite hand turned down to create a protective wall, it will save your life. I asked if this is applicable in any situation, say, in place of CPR, but it turns out he just meant it'll save your fingers.
  5. Sushi is actually technically just the rice, not the fish.

Chestnut is, among other things, an expert chocolatier, and he left us with a little envelope of six caramel and pistachio chews that mysteriously disappeared into our stomachs immediately.

Connecting people with professional chefs for cooking classes and unique dining experiences, Cozymeal, a San Francisco-based start-up launched in 2014, just found its way to Los Angeles, San Diego, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Boston, and, of course, New York City.

It can be a little pricey at upwards of $100 a person per meal, but whether you're making a four-course French menu with Chef Anup, creating the perfect poke bowl with Chef Ken, or learning to cook an upscale seafood menu with Chef Ivan, it's a great way to become a master chef and spend a fun night in for special occasions.


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