Chef Jo Gutierrez

Chef Jo Gutierrez

Last Friday night I enjoyed a rather unique experience. I visited a stranger’s home and was cooked an elaborate homemade dinner and dessert. This may sound uncomfortable and potentially dangerous, but I can assure you it was neither of those things. I introduce to you, meal sharing craze’s latest invention, The Kitchen Table App. 

The Kitchen Table App is a company and app that allows users to enjoy home cooked meals by locals in their own spaces. The app promotes eating well and connecting with interesting people and says they are “on a mission to turn ordinary meals into great memories”. However, this concept is not entirely new. Websites like MealSharing and EatWith also employ similar principles and services. The Kitchen Table App is the latest of the bunch and the most accessible in that they offer more affordable options than their competitors. I recently attended “Vegan Japanese Eats With Chef and Street Vendor Jo”. In addition to my guest and myself, there were five other dining companions at the table.

Chef Jo Gutierrez is a Los Angeles native who was born and raised in Northeast LA. He shared that, although he has cooked all his life, it was only recently that he committed to a vegan diet. He says the change has been transformative and he has not only lost weight but feels better.

 

Chef Jo started us off off with a virgin mango soju. Soju is a Korean distilled alcoholic beverage that is clear, colorless, and typically made using rice or sweet potatoes. Our mango soju was non-alcoholic but entirely delicious and filled with pieces of fresh mango. It emanated a fruity aroma throughout the dining space and acted as a great palate cleanser for the upcoming dishes.

 

wonton chips

Wonton Chips

Chef Jo soon presented us with delicious wonton chips topped with guacamole and vegan poke. The “poke” was created using tomatoes and was both well textured and highly flavorful. These pre-dinner bites were the perfect way to ease the taste buds into the fully vegan (and fully delicious) main course. 

 

The vegan ramen experience was one I will not soon forget. The coconut-based broth paired well with the noodles and various ramen toppings that included sweet potatoes, nori, ginger, tofu and shishito mushrooms. The noodles were made from scratch and particularly enjoyable. The taste was unique and held a lot of complexity in flavors. The tenderness of the toppings made the blending of flavors perfect and satisfying. Although the food was generous in portion, I am proud to admit I nearly finished the whole bowl.

To finish our dining extravaganza was the vegan green tea ice cream that came topped with crushed nuts and drizzled with chocolate. The sweet end to such a rich mix of tastes, flavors and textures was wholly satisfying. Not too rich or indulgent, green tea ice cream was a smart choice to follow the heavier ramen entree. All in all, the meal in its entirety exceeded expectations.

vegan green tea ice cream

Vegan Green Tea Ice Cream

However, The Kitchen Table App is not a company that solely concerns itself with food. Rather, their mission is to bring people together to enjoy one of life’s greatest pleasures: a meal and conversation. Part of the experience at Chef Jo’s was getting to know the other strangers at the table. Whether learning about set design production or vegan cooking or working on the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile, conversations with strangers over delicious food is never a wasted night. The Kitchen Table App is a great place to find unique events and activities to meet new people or even take your significant other for a date that goes above and beyond the classic “dinner and a movie” by offering a new and exciting culinary experience.

Elizabeth Tzagournis

Elizabeth is a longtime writer and current documentary filmmaker from Los Angeles California. Knowing the greater story of all who cross her path is her inspiration. She’s deeply passionate about food and health and enjoys cooking, exercise and being active in nature whenever possible. You’ll likely find her on a hike, in a documentary screening or at the local Farmer’s Market.