A kitchen without chaos is like a party with no personality. Last night, Chaos Cooking made its Miami debut, and these gastronomic gatherings go something like this: There's a host, everyone shows up with ingredients to make a dish (bonus points for bringing your own knives, cutting boards, and Tupperware), and everyone agrees to restore the host's house back to its pre-chaos state.
That's it. The equation is simple. As Chaos Cooking's tag line says: "Good People + Good Food = Good Times."
Last night, we took an elevator up to a stranger's apartment. We held our ingredients and our knives (!) as security blankets. What were we getting involved in?
Thankfully, we were greeted by Chaos' founders, the Brooklyn-based husband-and-wife team of Joe Che and Margaret Gere. We were also provided with free beers from Brooklyn Brewery to help ease us in for the inaugural night.
The oven and burners were raring to go, every surface was covered with food, and everyone was whipping out their goods and getting to cooking. It was, well, chaotic. Attendees chatted about what they were cooking, shared spices and oven mitts, and dishes hit the table as they were ready. There's no order. Everyone just cooks, nibbles, mingles, offers to help others, and has a merry ole time.
Because this was our first time at the event, we spoke to Che a bit more about the concept.
Short Order: How long have you been doing this, and how many Chaos Cooking dinners have there been?
Joe Che: Four years and two days. It's unknown how many -- over 400. It's community-based, so before the website tracked them, we had no idea.
Why Miami? Why now?
We were invited by Brooklyn Brewery as part of the Mash tour.
How does Chaos Cooking in Miami compare to Brooklyn?
Same thing, different people. We'd love to see the community grow. I've already had three people here approach me interested in hosting an event. With a new city and new community, we like to space out the events to one a month. In New York, sometimes there will be three events in a week.
What's the social aspect of Chaos Cooking?
It's people from all walks of life. Food is the great equalizer. Everyone has a lead-in question: "What are you making?"
We've had two marriages and one baby. It's not the intent, but it happens. Making it participatory weeds out people. People who are takers don't come. Assholes don't come to cooking events.
Word. We didn't find any.
This particular event had quite a few CouchSurfers, and we saw the same community dynamic well represented. There were people visiting from Norway and New Zealand, and the table featured everything from Turkish soup to tostones.
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We took our five minutes on dishwashing duty and packed our knives and left. It was a lot less dramatic than Top Chef, but fun nevertheless.
Check out their website for future events or if you'd be interested in hosting. There's no cost, and you have the potential to meet friends and try new food.
Follow Carina on Twitter @CarinaOst