Web-based platform connecting private chefs to diners launches in Orange County

Tempura Squash Blossom from Chef Jaclyn Gallo’s Winter Comfort Tasting Menu, available on Cheferbly.
(Courtesy of Cheferbly)

When Orange County native Kevin Kim was working in the real estate industry, he took a lot of meetings at restaurants.

“In real estate, you have got to do a lot of networking because we are in a relationship business,” said Kim. “I was always thinking of ways to make sure that my clients remember me.”

Kim was constantly looking for exceptional and memorable dining experiences in spaces that were private enough to discuss business.

“Anytime I sat down with my clients to foster a relationship it was in a coffee shop or restaurant,” said Kim.

Then he discovered private dining.

“I was blown away by the experience,” said Kim. “The food was amazing. It was intimate, private. It felt special to be able to interact with the chef.”

Hiring a chef to cook and create a personal dining experience in your home isn’t a new concept. But it is included among the activities that experienced a surge in popularity during the pandemic, as more people sought to enjoy the things they did pre-COVID-19 in the safety of their own home.

“It was during the pandemic when a lot of these chefs and cooks were laid off that they decided do something different and take a chance on becoming their own boss in the private dining space,” Kim said.

However, unlike at-home exercise classes offered by Peloton or blockbuster movies showing on streaming services while still in the theater, consumers aren’t always sure where to look for a private dining experience.

Cheferbly founder Kevin Kim.
(Courtesy of Cheferbly)

“Your friends may know of a chef or two, but there is no directory like Yelp to introduce private dining to consumers,” Kim said.

Kim utilized his background in software to create a platform that serves both chefs and diners and two months ago officially launched Cheferbly in Orange County. The web-based dining reservation platform is designed for private chefs and caterers to pre-sell tickets to their pop-up events and private dining experiences. Cheferbly takes a percentage of each booking.

Kim hopes Cheferbly will simplify the booking process for both chefs and diners.

“The process for booking catered dinners was so complicated, time-consuming and seemingly antiquated, given restaurant reservations can be made with the click of a button,” Kim said.

Currently the site boasts 18 private chefs and caterers, each vetted by the Cheferbly team. Diners can click through a visual directory of chefs, complete with menus, pricing and booking details.

Diners can find Chef Jaclyn Gallo, for example, on the site offering a five-course crustacean tasting menu priced at $300 per person. Gallo graduated from the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont and helmed Down Home Kitchen before coming to the West Coast. Locally, she has worked at Costa Mesa’s Michelin-starred Knifepleat and the Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach.

Gallo’s tasting menu experience can be booked for groups of four to 12. Diners choose a date and time that works for their group and provides the location and kitchen, along with seating, oven, cooktop, and tableware (the chef can provide tableware for an additional fee). The chef will provide the ingredients and cook and serve the party.

The experience is about four hours long, which includes 90 to 120 minutes of serving time. The chef arrives roughly 2½ hours prior to dinnertime to cook. And, of course, the chef and staff will clean up afterwards.

A sweet potato dish from Chef Jaclyn Gallo’s Winter Comfort Tasting Menu, available on Cheferbly.
(Courtesy of Cheferbly)

“Everything about our experience, from start to finish, is elevated,” said Kim.

In an effort to introduce more diners to the concept of private dining, Cheferbly is planning a multicourse dinner on Feb. 14 at the Middleby Residential Showroom in Irvine.

“On Valentine’s Day we are going to have an event with five of our top chefs,” said Kim, adding that about 60 seats remain available.

The dinner will feature courses from chef Gallo, along with chefs Caleb Hernandez, Jimmy Matiz, Adriano Costa and Taylor Elam, and details will be announced via Cheferbly’s IG page (@cheferbly_now).

Kim said he is encouraged by the response Cheferbly has received since launching in October.

“We’ve been staying very busy since then, not only booking our chefs but also onboarding new chefs to the platform,” he said.

Cheferbly is in the process of adding chefs from the Los Angeles and San Diego areas, and Kim is looking forward to nationwide expansion opportunities in target markets like New York and Chicago.

“Our vision is for us to democratize private dining,” said Kim, “to make it accessible for all those that are interested in experiencing something more elevated and unique.”

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