Dinner and Drinks 2.0: Cooking Up with OutGourmet

by Matthew Wexler
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Feb 16, 2010

New York City's first official gay cooking class, the OutGourmet, is the perfect recipe for a social night out for men who aren't afraid to clean their plates- and get their hands dirty. Chef Michael Plunkett recently invited me to be his guest at one of his signature classes: Steakhouse at Home. Dismissing any hesitation I might have about my fleeting social skills, Chef Michael admitted, "It's time-consuming and difficult to make friends or meet someone special in a crowded bar or club. In an era of speed dating, online personals and 'e' everything, spending time in the kitchen is a great way to slow down and get to know someone."

Where’s the Beef?

OutGourmet classes are held in a quaint commercial kitchen tucked within an otherwise nondescript pre-war building in Hell’s Kitchen. With a maximum 8 students per class, it’s the perfect opportunity for hands-on experience - both culinary and otherwise. The evening began with casual introductions, basic kitchen protocol, and a review of the recipes to be prepared.

Did I mention the gourmet appetizers and flowing bottles of wine?

This particular menu featured scrumptious house-smoked salmon and hoisin-glazed chicken skewers. The events are BYOB, and my new friends didn’t disappoint. We could have opened a street-side mini-bar, but opted instead to consume the provisions on our own in the spirit of Julia Child, who always suggested that one should have a cocktail at hand when in the kitchen.

Next page :: Never too many cooks in the kitchen!

Never Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

The OutGourmet is hands-on, and Chef Michael wasted no time cinching us into personalized aprons, assigning tasks, and getting the meal underway. Working in teams, the group collectively pulled off a meal that would impress any first date: traditional Caesar salad, Lyonnaise potatoes, creamed spinach with bacon, and a whopping five different cuts of beef with accompanying sauces.

With varying levels of expertise - and no orientation as to where cooking utensils were located - there were a some frenetic moments... and a few near-mishaps. (I plead guilty to an overworked pastry dough.) That said, when we sat down to eat, it felt like a worthy hustle compared to my recent attempt to buy a cocktail for a guy glued to his iPhone at my neighborhood bar.

Family-Style Feast

There’s something inherently comfortable about sharing a meal with friends, and the OutGourmet strikes a near-perfect balance of culinary insight and socializing.

We ravenously dove into the t-bone and tenderloin, lapping up the red wine and chimichurri sauces that had appeared so daunting just an hour before. Chef Michael equated the recipes to dating.

"It may look good on paper," he shared, "but it’s about the full experience- touching, feeling, tasting. That’s what lets you know you’re alive."

With that insight, the evening’s pièce de résistance was revealed. We were completely satiated, but who could refuse a black bottom banana cream pie?

The OutGourmet offers a range of classes that will have you throwing A-list dinner parties faster than you can find Martha Stewart’s new time slot on the Hallmark channel. Upcoming events include International Tapas (Feb. 27) and Marvelous Mediterranean, Mar. 6. For more information, visit or call 917-887-1342.

Matthew Wexler is EDGE's Senior Editor, Features & Branded Content. More of his writing can be found at Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.

Comments on Facebook