Intueat offers diners the chance to experience new cuisines and fine dining at home

Leonardo De Aguiar, a 28-year-old entrepreneur from Denver, became interested in creating his own private chef platform after his fiancée (now wife) moved in with him in late 2018. “I wanted to surprise her with a meal. romantic private for two, so I contacted about 30 chefs,” says De Aguiar. “I think I heard from two people who were genuinely interested.”

De Aguiar, who previously worked in marketing, attributes crickets to the fact that professional chefs at the time were only interested in cooking for catered events or working for restaurants. De Aguiar wanted a romantic dinner that went beyond traditional takeout: a gourmet restaurant experience at home. But coordinating an elevated catered meal for two can be complicated and require dozens of phone calls. That’s why, in November 2019, it launched Chef Connect, an app designed to connect consumers with caterers open to preparing small meals at home. Unfortunately, a few months later, in March 2020, the pandemic turned the world and De Aguiar’s business upside down.

“My team and I sat around a table and literally looked at each other like, ‘What do we do now?'” De Aguiar said. “None of us wanted to give up on the project, but we knew it wasn’t safe to enter people’s homes at the time.”

Outside of Intueat. Photo by Barbara Urzua

Over the next several months, De Aguiar launched a “buy one, give one” meal program at Chef Connect, where his team provided Denver first responders and business owners with a meal for every meal purchased. through the app. As they eventually donated 500 meals, he heard from countless chefs who no longer had outlets for their skills due to restaurant closures. They needed a way to pay the bills.

“That’s when we renamed Chef Connect to become Intueat,” says De Aguiar. “Intueat is more forward-thinking. Our chefs decide their menus and prices, and we focus on small dining experiences rather than larger catering events.

Intueat’s platform — which relaunched under the new name in September 2020 — is a bit like Airbnb but for private dining. As you scroll through the list of approximately 40 chefs, Intueat displays the specialty cuisine, background, and price each person chose (of which Intueat takes a small slice). While De Aguiar admits Intueat typically serves “affluent socialites,” some chefs offer affordable alternatives to a typical private dining experience. Chef Kip Siemens, for example, will happily whip up barbecue, American or Mexican dishes for $60 per person, bringing an accessible yet upscale restaurant experience to your dining table. On the other hand, the chefs at Denver’s Matsuhisa (a concept by celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa) will prepare sushi and Japanese cuisine for two to 14 people at a minimum of $5,600.

“We’ve definitely served clients like professional athletes,” says De Aguiar. “But we’re also trying to reach the general public who may not be aware that private chefs may be in their price range.”

The cooking professionals on the platform also serve a variety of dishes not often seen in traditional Denver restaurants, giving diners the opportunity to try fresh flavors. For example, book chef Deshaunte Longley for Jamaican dishes, or chef Joanna Stein for West African and Ghanaian bites. De Aguiar insists that what makes Intueat special is the idea of ​​chefs running their own business. From selecting their own prices to creating their own menus, Intueat gives chefs flexibility they may never have had before.

“Working in a restaurant really left me with no personal time for me and my family. Days off were rare,” says Michael Sanguinetti, an Intueat chef. “Intueat lets me decide when I work and I have the freedom creative to serve what I want.”

Born in Texas, Sanguinetti has been cooking since the age of 15 and says his Southern roots strongly influence his cooking. His Chicken Fried Quail, a plate served with sweet tea buttermilk, candied lemon and locally sourced honey, is topped with homemade sweet pickles, offering an upscale take on the classic fried chicken dish. It sits on top of a crisp piece of fresh focaccia from South Broadway’s Rebel Bread, an Intueat partner that chefs can source from. Sanguinetti also produces fine Italian specialties such as saffron raviolo uovo pasta, which is sprinkled with spinach and ricotta, drizzled with a sun-dried tomato sauce and topped with a perfectly runny egg.

While Intueat started in Denver and regularly serves customers in mountain towns, the company has expanded to Florida, Texas and Georgia, and De Aguiar hopes it doesn’t stop there. The company also plans to hold occasional pop-up events at its South Broadway Dining Hall, which chefs will soon be able to rent out to host their own events.

“As we grow, we really want to expand the concept and elevate it beyond the typical private chef experience,” says De Aguiar. “We have on-call nutritionists, on-call event planners. We hope this is just the beginning.

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