Chef News

Chefs Eric O'Neill and Perry Herst of SmartKitchen, Part Two

We talked yesterday with the chefs behind the online culinary school SmartKitchen. Chefs Eric O'Neill and Perry Herst talked about the launch if the program and we explained Eric's culinary roots. Today Chef Perry, COO of SmartKitchen, will give his story and we'll find out what they each find most gratifying about their jobs.

Perry, an entrepreneur and restaurateur, has worked in a variety of industries from software technology to consumer goods. He's owned five restaurants and carries an impress portfolio of degrees from Brown, Columbia and UC Berkley's Haas School of Business.

I've always been interested in cooking since school. I won some little pie contests in grade school and was involved in a food company in late 80s and 90s, but I didn't like the margin so I got into some software based projects. When I heard about this project I said to Eric, "I really like what you're doing," So we became partners. I have not been to culinary school but I'm learning a lot.

How many videos does the SmartKitchen website offer?

We have over 435 exercises today, 2,100 resources, 75 recipes and every single day we are building out our exercise and resource section. The best thing about our subscription is that it never stops growing.

Some of them can be as simple as general tomato information--that itself can be 30 pages of tomato. Then we have some resources that are more organizational. And tips. We have a thing called the Cut Matrix. It's all organized in a chart that's arranged from smallest to largest and a lot of teachers at culinary schools use it for students because it makes it much more clear to see the different types of cuts. Organization is one of the largest things we teach.

Is this mainly a learning tool for beginners, or is thing something that even someone who's fairly experienced in the kitchen can benefit from as well?

We have two different levels of videos: advanced and beginner. Advanced might be something like learning how to do an ice sculpture with a chain saw. Beginning can be as simple as learning how to properly wash your hands

What drives you?

Perry: For me, the most gratifying part is when we are with people and they have a wow moment. When they're like "wow, I didn't know I could do that."

Eric: For me it's just kind of cool to get people back into the kitchen. I take more of the humanistic approach to it because the general public has gotten away from cooking and has forgotten the huge value cooking can have for yourself and your family.

Perry: Exactly. It's like you can have the worst foods, say chicken nuggets, but if you make it at home it will be healthier.

Get the SmartKitchen recipe for Perfect Turkey and Andouille Sausage Stuffing tomorrow.

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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria