Aspen Times Weekly: Restaurants without borders and the home experience
Special to The Aspen Times
With just about everything the world offers at the touch of our fingertips these days, in the not-so-far-future, you can “order up” a top chef from, say, Chicago or San Francisco, to come to your home and prepare a meal. And we’re not talking a virtual chef. Tivity is connecting high-quality chefs with people looking for a restaurant-level meal in the comfort of their own home.
Currently, the company serves the Aspen, Denver, Austin, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, San Antonio and San Francisco markets, connecting their network of chefs to homeowners. In some ways, the company acts as an external private events manager for restaurants, as well.
Whatever clients want, Tivity delivers: They say every dinner is unique, and every experience is different. Planning begins with the type of food and atmosphere clients envision. Then, it’s sort of like a dating app, in terms of pairing the best chef to the request. Sushi chefs create artistic, Japanese-inspired cuisine, French chefs transport guests to their favorite bistros abroad and custom tapas reflect social dining in Spain.
“We want every customer and guest to walk away thinking they have never had anything like that and a chef to be excited he or she has stretched his or her creative culinary chops,” Tivity co-founder Emmie Nostitz said.
The idea is like INTUEAT, in that it brings chefs into your home.
“What we love about INTUEAT is that we are doing the same thing and working to give chefs more opportunities,” co-founder Zach Knight said. “We know that particularly, in Aspen, there are a ton of private chefs already working, and we want to help all of them book more dinners, streamline their process and manage client relations for them. We believe that chefs should be chefs, and we can take care of the rest — everything from managing payment, printing menus, obtaining images of any kitchen a chef will walk into, to knowing allergy information for all guests attending.”
Ultimately, the company aims to create more opportunities for chefs.
“We want to amplify them and give them the tools to succeed,” he said. “We believe if the chef has the tools to execute, they can deliver an experience that is better than inside a restaurant. Ultimately, Tivity is a way for chefs to do more of what they love: cook and be creative.”
So far, the company has hosted over 100 experiences for homeowners, businesses and private parties, including a recent dinner for the Aspen Art Museum.
But the question remains: How is Tivity or INTUEAT different than a high-quality catering company? The answer seems to lie in its access to a variety of top-notch chefs. Like catering companies, they plan, execute and serve customized meals, but their range of chefs makes the difference.
Knight and Nostitz launched the business in Austin but have local ties: Born and raised in Denver, Knight lived in Aspen and worked at Matsuhisa in 2009 and 2010 before moving to San Antonio for an MBA program. Nostitz attended University of Colorado and splits her time between Aspen and Austin.
“We both consider Aspen a very special place, and, in many ways, home,” Nostitz said.
Prices of the meals range, but according to Tivity, “a standard, seated and plated course dinner is comparable to the price of a meal at the top restaurants in Aspen. … Every chef, menu and event is different, therefore the final price of each experience will vary.” Alcohol and services like flower arrangements are additional.
With restaurant reservations becoming harder to book, Tivity wants “to become a true alternative to going out to dinner” as it brings restaurants to you. Its goal: “to become synonymous with the other amazing restaurants in town,” Nostitz said. “We pride ourselves on saying, ‘We turn your dining room into the hottest table in town.’”
And, as for that renowned, out-of-state chef coming to your home: Well, one of Tivity’s founding principles is: a restaurant without borders.
“We have a vision of one day allowing any chef to move through the Tivity network and be booked for any dinner or meal in any part of the country. This allows chefs that want to take a trip or do a residency in another city the flexibility and ability to do so,” Knight said. “We have had some clients in Aspen already consider some of our Austin chefs to come to Aspen for a dinner party.”