Introducing Joule: A Letter From Chris Young

We built Joule to fit seamlessly in today's kitchen. It fits in a drawer with your knives and your spatula, and you'll use it just as often.

Joule is small enough to fit in a drawer with your knives. We think you’ll use it just as often.

Revolutions have to start somewhere.

Despite massive advances in computing and the internet, globalization and manufacturing, the kitchen has largely been left behind. We’re going to change that.

In the last few years, ChefSteps has created and shared over 700 video-based recipes, which you’ve viewed over 50 million times from nearly every country in the world. And for those of you who’ve watched our videos or cooked our recipes, it won’t come as a surprise that we think sous vide has a big role to play in revolutionizing the kitchen.

The more we listened to your feedback, the more it became clear that many of you wanted a better sous vide cooking experience. We challenged ourselves to reimagine sous vide from the ground up, to create a tool that would inspire and empower cooks at every skill level and make sous vide a real part of today’s kitchen.

So we built it. And we call it Joule.

Joule represents three years of listening and reacting to your feedback, testing with community members, and inventing and reinventing until we got it right. But this is just the beginning. We built Joule for you, and we’re incredibly excited to get it into your hands, learn from your experiences, and decide what comes next. And yes, I’m being sincere when I say Joule is for you, and for every single cook in the ChefSteps community.

We hope Joule will encourage you to continue believing in the magic of the kitchen and sharing in the ritual of cooking and eating with the people you love. Grant and I founded ChefSteps with a conviction that if we focused on making cooks happy through our work, then our business would thrive. Those of you who have worked in the restaurant industry will recognize this as the business of hospitality.

Gratefully,
Chris

PS. ChefSteps is truly a global community, and it’s important to us that we make Joule available to passionate cooks around the world. We’re working as fast as we can to bring it to you. If you’re interested in getting updates about availability in your country, go to chefsteps.com/joule and click “Keep Me Posted.”

Joule: claim yours now.

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Preorder Joule today and be among the first cooks to experience the future of sous vide.

Tim Ferriss Recipe Contest: We Have a Winner!

Abishai Powers makes slider buns for baby meatloaf burgers.

Abishai Powers makes slider buns for his baby meatloaf burgers.

Greetings, ChefSteppers. In May, we invited cooks to participate in a recipe contest, a partnership with The 4-Hour Workweek author Tim Ferriss in support of his TV show launching on iTunes. And we got some seriously impressive entries.

About the contest

We asked home cooks to create a dish based on a concept, technique, or recipe they learned from a ChefSteps class or video—free or paid—and then post the results on the forum. Next, our in-house contest committee (with Tim Ferriss also weighing in, of course!) reviewed the awesome entries, selecting a winner based on the creativity of the dish, the description of said dish, and the social media strategy used to promote it.

The prize: The winner will attend a special dinner cooked by our chefs in the ChefSteps kitchen. Joining this ambitious someone: Ferriss himself, plus CS founders Chris Young and Grant Crilly!

Meet the winners

The Powers family made the ChefSteps Slider Buns, adding taco seasoning for "pizazz."

The Powers made the ChefSteps Slider Buns, adding taco seasoning for “pizazz.”

Welp, we have a winner. Actually, we have more than one! First, there’s Dr. David Powers (who represents his 10-year-old son Abishai Powers), and some mouthwatering Mexican Meatloaf Sliders. At the tender age of 10, David’s son is already a budding chef and MasterChef Junior devotee. And David, as it turns out, is a hardcore Tim Ferriss fan. Abishai said he’d love to travel with his dad to the dinner if he won, despite the fact that “he’ll act like a little fangirl when he meets Tim.”

The Powers explained that ChefSteps inspired them to start measuring ingredients by weight instead of volume for better accuracy as well as less mess. And the family used our Slider Buns recipe, adding a Southwestern twist by sprinkling some taco seasoning into the mix. The delicious-looking recipe is on the forum and on Abishai’s blog. In addition to promoting the creation there, the family posted a video on YouTube along with a bunch of other social channels. All in all, pretty great.

And there’s another winner, too!

Sebastian's gorgeous dish, featuring beef chuck transformed via sous vide cooking.

Sebastian’s gorgeous dish, featuring beef chuck transformed via sous vide cooking.

We were also super-taken with the entry submitted by Sebastian Nava. “I was captivated by the idea of transforming a tough cut into a tender steak through cooking sous vide,” wrote Sebastian in his entry. (To learn all about that—and get a bunch of great meaty recipes—sign up for our Cooking Sous Vide: Beyond the Basics class.) He settled on beef chuck, cooking it at 136 degrees farenheit for 24 hours to yield a texture that rivaled premium steaks at a fancy chophouse. He served this meat with fresh chimichurri plus roasted red bell pepper spheres, buttermilk mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, and crispy garlic chips. Dang, right? Sounds (and looks) delicious. He promoted this masterpiece on a bunch of social media channels, making use of new tool Periscope, and doing lots of smart tagging and hashtagging. All in all a very impressive show from Sebastian. So impressive, we named him a co-winner and invited him to attend dinner with Tim and the Powers men, too. We can’t wait to meet the whole crew.

Stay tuned!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest—it was so fun checking out what you made—and stay tuned for the next ChefSteps competition. Meanwhile, we’ll update here with pictures and details of the yet-to-be-scheduled dinner once it happens. Keep cooking, and keep sharing your pics with us on the forum, Facebook, instagram, and Twitter. We can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

Transformation Contest: We Have a Winner!

Tough choices! The team was totally charmed by all the Transformation contest entries.

Tough choices! The team was totally charmed by all the Transformation contest entries.

Last month we launched a contest all about transformation: taking cheap, overripe, or leftover ingredients and turning them into something delicious. We asked you to send us pictures or videos that demonstrated your favorite transformative techniques—those game-changing ideas that take something sleazy and turn it into something sexy. And oh boy, did you show up. We got over a hundred submissions, each completely unique, covering topics from butchery to baking, sous vide to food sculpture. You showed us how leftover carrot tops could become bright, beautiful pesto; how a freshly-hunted wild boar could become honey-baked ham; how some foraged clams could transform into a fragrant chowder. And that’s just the beginning. We spent days reviewing gorgeous modern plates, mouth-watering braises, and homemade charcuterie. Needless to say, we were amazed by the creativity, skill, and enthusiasm with which you attacked this project.

After much deliberation, we came up with a list of five runners-up and one winner. Given all the amazing entries, it was truly difficult to narrow it down. To thank you all for your amazing efforts, we’re offering each participant a free ChefSteps class. (We’ll be in touch about that soon.) Already purchased them all? Have we mentioned we love you? You can give the free class away as a gift.

Without further ado, let’s get to the results.

The Runners-Up

These five entries were all in the running for the big win.

Bjorn Storm, San Diego, CA
Transforming a storebought rotisserie chicken

 

Dayna Palmer, Hyde, MD
Gold chocolate bars

“I tempered dark chocolate via the seeding method,” writes cocoa whisperer Dayna Palmer, “melting the bloomed chocolate to approximately 38 degrees C, then adding tempered chocolate ‘seeds’—for nucleation sites—and stirring until the chocolate reached about 30 to 32 C. Once it reached this temperature, I cast a shell of this dark chocolate using a polycarbonate mold that I had painted with gold cocoa butter! I deposited the tempered dark chocolate into the mold, tapped out air bubbles, then emptied the excess chocolate so that just a shell was left to be filled.”

The results speak for themselves. You can see more of Dayna’s work at her Etsy shop, called Chocolate Theory.

Writes Palmer: "The before photo is untempered dark chocolate that has set with noticeable fat bloom!" The after images shows the spectacular gold candy bars she made from it. Photo courtesy of Dayna Palmer

Writes Palmer: “The before photo is untempered dark chocolate that has set with noticeable fat bloom!” The after images shows the spectacular gold candy bars she made from it. Photo courtesy of Dayna Palmer.

 

David Statman, Elmont, NY
Transforming mandarin and tangerine soy dipping sauce into soy candy

“What to do with leftover mandarin and tangerine soy dipping sauce?” asks transformer David Statman. “I first thought I would use it as a marinade to grill vegetables, but then inspiration struck and I knew what to do: Turn it into candy! I reduced the sauce on the stovetop and poured it onto a wannabe Silpat to cool and harden. These sweet and savory shards are quite potent, especially as the soy and ginger get more concentrated.”

So crafty! If we could reach into that picture and grab one of those treats, we’d be a happy crew.

Statman started with leftover mandarin-and-tangerine-soy dipping sauce. He transformed that sauce into shiny candies! Photo courtesy of David Statman.

Statman started with leftover mandarin-and-tangerine-soy dipping sauce. He transformed that sauce into shiny candies! Photo courtesy of David Statman.

 

Linas Zymantas, Chicago, IL
From oxtail to pho

Writes Zymantas: “I seared the oxtails and then added them to a stock pot with onion, carrot, daikon, ginger, and spices. I simmered the broth for about 12 hours until the oxtails were falling apart tender. The broth was seasoned appropriately, and the shredded oxtails went back into the super silky broth to make a delicious pho!”

Okay we’ll just admit it. The way to our hearts is oxtail pho. Forever. Every time.

Zymantas started with oxtail, an inexpensive tough cut, and transformed into gorgeous pho. Photo courtesy of Linas Zymantas.

Zymantas started with oxtail, an inexpensive tough cut, and transformed into gorgeous pho. Photo courtesy of Linas Zymantas.

 

Ryne Orechia, Kirkland, WA
Lamb shoulder dish

This Rainier Club cook gave his boss a shoutout, letting us know the chef there encourages creativity in the kitchen. And Orechia clearly takes advantage of the opportunity: he transformed tough lamb shoulder into a remarkable dish via the magic of sous vide. Watch him tell you how he did it in the video below, then check out his remarkable before and after.

Awesome, right? Now check out the pics.

Orechia took on one of our favorite tough cuts: flavor-packed lamb shoulder. He gently cooked the shoulder sous vide to create this lovely dish. Photo courtesy of Ryne Orechia.

Orechia took on one of our favorite tough cuts: flavor-packed lamb shoulder. He gently cooked the shoulder sous vide to create this lovely dish. Photo courtesy of Ryne Orechia.

And the winner is…

Teodosiy Teodosiev, Walnut Creek, CA
Amazing escargots

ChefSteps user Teodosiy Teodosiev stole the show with this incredible transformation featuring the slimy little fellas that populate gardens and sea rocks all over the world. Check out his stop motion video for the full contest-winning story.

Congratulations, Teo! We hope you enjoy that $500 worth of goodies that Grant plucked from the DeLaurenti shelves.

Ready to create your own amazing transformations? Sign up for Cooking Sous Vide: Beyond the Basics and discover incredible, easy techniques for making custards, carnitas for a crowd, Kung Pao ribs, and so much more.

Coffee Class Contest: Keep Naming That Recipe

UPDATE: The contest is over—congrats to Jon Low, whose amazing name Dark Matter won us over completely. He’ll get a free class and unending glory. But do watch this video to hear some of the many brilliant ideas our community came up with. You guys are seriously brilliant.

Recently, the ChefSteps kitchen concocted a chocolate-like substance made out of coffee—part of our upcoming Coffee class—and oh man, is it tasty.

But when it came time to naming this caffeinated treat, we turned to you.

The contest entries have come pouring in. And there are some serious standouts, we must say. We were so impressed, we stopped shooting another forthcoming class (stay tuned for word on that one) to share a random sample of the thousands of submissions we’ve received so far. Think you’ve got something better than Soylent Brown, Beanoise, or Black Tar Heroin? Submit your idea before midnight on February 4. The winner gets the class—full of cool techniques, unique recipes, and fun brew science—for FREE.

Join ChefSteps today to get the first word on contests, new classes and recipes, and much more.

Coffee Class Contest: Name That Recipe

What’s that stuff in the video?

It’s our new recipe for “chocolate” that’s made with coffee beans instead of cacao beans. It’s chocolate, without the chocolate. It looks like chocolate, it acts like chocolate, but it ain’t chocolate. At least, not technically.

Pure chocolate is made by combining ground cacao beans, cocoa butter, and liquid soy lecithin to form a smooth, creamy liquid. That liquid is then made into your favorite sweet treats—cast into individual chocolates; drizzled over granola bars; combined with milk powder to make milk chocolate—you get the idea. With this recipe, we simply replace the cacao beans with roasted coffee beans, and then follow the exact same procedure. The result is a robustly flavored, velvety coffee paste that behaves just like chocolate. What to do with it, you ask? Pretty much anything you’d do with regular chocolate.

With this luscious new recipe—part of our coming-soon Coffee class—we managed to use one of our favorite things (coffee) to pay homage to one of our other favorite things (chocolate), with delicious results. But giving it a good name proved trickier.

So it’s up to you, clever ChefSteps community. What should we call this caffeine-packed confection?

How do I suggest a name?

Submit your proposed recipe name by midnight on Wednesday, Feb 4 by including it in the comments below. Share as many monikers as you like, but be sure to include your email address when you submit, because the winner (chosen by the ChefSteps staff) gets the new Coffee class FOR FREE.

What do I win?

Yours for the taking: awesome advice from two of the world’s foremost coffee nerds—delivered via fun, fascinating videos along with step-by-step tips and techniques—along with four recipes, including the unnamed delicacy above. Learn to make the most of French Press, Chemex, and Aeropress brewers, dive into easy-to-understand coffee science, and connect with other java lovers along the way. This class is comprehensive, interactive, and totally results-based—you’ll have a great time learning to up your coffee game, and wind up with perfect home brew.

The winner will be announced—and thoroughly celebrated—within the class, scheduled for release in early February.

So get those creative juices percolating, coffee lovers. We can’t wait to see you win the name game.

The ChefSteps Coffee Class Is Here!

 

Coffee drinkers, consider this your wake-up call. We’ve just released a brand-new coffee class brimming with techniques and tricks to help you perfect the all-important drink that coaxes you to life on the daily. Created in partnership with java Jedi James Hoffmann (Square Mile Roasters, World Barista Champion) and Ben Kaminsky (co-founder of Barismo, US Cup Tasting Champion), the class will offer step-by-step instructions for leveling up what’s in your cup. From a novel No-Press French Press technique to in-depth instructions on mastering extraction—the secret to any perfect brew—you’ll learn everything you need to know to make coffee that rivals the stuff at the world’s best cafes.

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This being ChefSteps, we’re also including fun techniques for cooking with coffee—from an easy rub for flavoring steaks and chicken to an amazing modernist confection to wow and delight your dinner guests. Kaminsky demos his Liar’s Latte, a delicious, dairy-free twist on the frothy favorite, while Hoffmann explains how to hold a proper coffee tasting, and offers a guide to the best gadgets on the market. Learn how to buy the best beans, optimize your grounds for extraction excellence, and ensure your Chemex game is on point. Supported by four sexy instructional videos, a behind-the-scenes lecture series, and plenty of pretty photos, this class promises to propel you headlong into the fascinating world of first-rate specialty coffee—we believe you’ll emerge fully energized to go forth and achieve your own perfect cup.

Sign up now, home-brew enthusiasts. Crazy-good coffee is within reach.

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Enter your email below to get the first word on our Coffee class release, or visit the forum to start talking coffee.



“Wall of Fire” Is on the Way! (Film Trailer)

Wall of Fire_Chris_MK3_3175

We have a tradition here at ChefSteps. Every summer, we challenge ourselves to create an outlandish exploit involving enormous amounts of meat and even more heat. Then, we invite a bunch of friends to a barbecue starring the flaming invention, plus a bountiful spread of food cooked using recipes from our development kitchen. Past exploit examples include the Gaggle Roaster and the World’s Largest Sous Vide Pastrami.

The point: to solve a common cooking problem, only on an insane scale. Oh, and to have the sort of fun that’s only possible when power tools and open flames are involved. We’re always looking to challenge ourselves to do something better than the year before, but at the end of the day, we still need to build a contraption that allows us to cook great food. (Remember all those people we invited over? They’ll be expecting dinner.) Basically, it’s about thinking ambitiously, solving problems through science, eating extremely well, and having a ton of fun. Kind of like the soul of ChefSteps, encapsulated in one very smoky annual event.

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When we came up with this year’s apparatus, dubbed the “Wall of Fire” for reasons that are about to become apparent, we figured why not use the project to tell a story about our fledgling company? To help us, we brought aboard award-winning film and television director Sandy Smolan. Smolan worked with our team of in-house filmmakers, musicians, and writers to make a documentary short, Wall of Fire, that we will be releasing on Thursday, October nine. A true labor of love, the film showcases the passion for cooking and technology—not to mention general over-the-top ridiculousness—that ChefSteps embodies.

Below you’ll find the Wall of Fire trailer. Have a look, then let us know what you think in the comments, and get ready for the release of the full documentary on the ninth. We can’t wait to share it.

To stay up with the latest on this and other projects, be sure to sign up as a member on ChefSteps.com.

A Quick Announcement About Content

Camp the ChefSteps dog takes a nap.

Camp takes a quick break from a long research session.

Hello there, ChefSteps community. As you’ve likely noticed, our hard-working team of cooks, designers, writers, photographers, and musicians has settled into a pattern of delivering new content every Tuesday. This weekly schedule has allowed us to populate the site with tons of new content that, on the whole, you’ve responded to with great enthusiasm—which we appreciate greatly. We’ve been pushing hard to provide you with plenty of kitchen inspiration—from tips and tricks on how to level up your sous vide game, to a grow-your-own microgreens project and the launch of the ChefSteps Egg Calculator.

Recently, we began developing some ambitious new releases that we believe are shaping up to be among the best stuff we’ve produced yet. In the next few weeks you’ll get a thorough, behind-the-scenes account of how chefs design and plate their own dishes. Then, with the help of some of the best baristas and roasters in the biz, we’ll dig deep into the science of espresso—teaching you to pull perfect shots and make sexy latte art, among other things. After that, prepare for an epic launch of new sous vide content, featuring exclusive, essential information you won’t find anywhere else, period. Whether you’re just getting curious about this revolutionary cooking method or are looking to improve your already considerable skills, you’ll discover plenty there to enrich your sous vide experience.

But here’s the thing: Ensuring this content is the best it can be is going to require massive amounts of research, plus more photo and film shoots, writing, original graphics, and input and innovation from our kitchen than we’ve ever brought you before. Plus, we want to get better at supporting content once it has been published. So while you can continue to expect lots of new stuff from us, we will no longer be adhering to a strict weekly schedule. Stay tuned for more information, and don’t forget to explore the hundreds of recipes, techniques, and articles that currently populate the site. Get ready for some great stuff coming soon. We can’t wait to share it with you.

Our New Mobile App Was Built by Unicorns

Here’s what happens when people who love cooking and learning work together. 

IPHONE APP

It’s only a matter of time before you hear of Nick Cammarata and Andrew Hsu, so we might as well get it out of the way. Call them what you will: entrepreneurs, prodigies, unicorns. We’ve thrown all those words around here at ChefSteps, and they’re all true. Nick and Andrew spent the last four months building our brand new mobile app, and we couldn’t be prouder to show it off.

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In their combined 44 years on this planet, Nick and Andrew have done more than many will do in a lifetime. By age 16, Nick had founded his first start-up company; by 18, he was awarded a Thiel Fellowship to skip college and work on software solutions to optimize teaching strategies at the high school level.

In Nick’s 2011 Thiel class was Andrew Hsu, a former 19-year-old PhD candidate in Stanford’s neuroscience program. Andrew started undergraduate at the University of Washington at age 12, and graduated at 16 with degrees in neurobiology, biochemistry, and chemistry. He left his PhD program at Stanford four years later in order to pursue the Thiel Fellowship. Nick and Andrew bonded quickly over their passion for education and learning. They started a company together last summer committed to developing high-tech solutions for learning and acquiring knowledge.

Enter ChefSteps. And guess what? We love learning, too. So we asked Nick and Andrew to build a mobile app that would encourage people to learn more about food and cooking through our recipes and videos.

“We’re both passionate about cooking and were instantly fascinated by the quality of the ChefSteps content, and wanted to help in any way we could,” says Andrew. “When we visited ChefSteps, we kept hearing people talk about how mobile technology was often used in the kitchen to view recipes, as mobile devices are way less unwieldy than laptops. So, we started working with ChefSteps on developing the mobile experience and decided that the initial release would be a beautiful mobile recipe viewer. We knew that ChefSteps’ content, photos, and videos had to be placed in the forefront of any design, and we hope that we’ve made a first step at showcasing it properly.”

We think Nick and Andrew did a great job, and we hope you’ll think so, too. Try out the app and please, as always, let us know if you have any feedback.

The ChefSteps app is currently live for iPhones running iOS7. It allows you to view, search for, and filter recipes, and quickly gather all the information to prepare, learn, and create your own recipes.

PSST: This is only the tip of the iceberg. Nick and Andrew are already at work on their next ChefSteps project, creating a new, modern, unified forum, commenting system, and community tools. Stay tuned for more from our unicorns-in-residence.

UPDATE: We hear you, Android and Windows users! Unfortunately, right now our community traffic doesn’t support the decision to develop non-iPhone apps. Invite your fellow Android and Windows users to join ChefSteps, and we’ll do our best to get development underway. Until then, borrow your friends’ iPhones and check it out!

Cook Smarter with ChefSteps on PBS Food!

We’re pleased to announce that our web series  ChefSteps: Cook Smarter is now live on the PBS Food site! We’re very excited to bring our work to a new audience at PBS.

Each week on ChefSteps: Cook Smarter, we’ll publish some of our favorite recipes and techniques, which will appear alongside other amazing food series, like Made in Spain with José Andrés and The Mind of a Chef with Anthony Bourdain and David Chang.

We’re thrilled to be part of PBS Food, which is a curated resource for educational cooking shows, blogs, and recipes from around the world.