There’s a new way for restaurant groupies to get up-close-and-personal with the chefs they revere: Kitchit, an online company that connects great pro cooks with fans who want to hire them for parties. Here, San Francisco chef Jeff Banker grills a rooftop feast.

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Nowadays, it has become increasingly possible to spend time at home with your favorite chefs—by watching them on TV, for instance, or using their branded cookware. But through a startup called, restaurant fanatics can now bring actual chefs into their home kitchens. No kidnapping required.

The site gives people with a chef obsession the chance to browse the profiles of seriously seasoned cooks, contact them via the web and book them for events of all kinds—like an elegant dinner party with a pajama dress code, say, or a whole-hog tailgate roast. Currently operating in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, with plans to expand to New York and Chicago this year, Kitchit has a roster of talent that includes boldface names like Traci Des Jardins, plus lesser-known cooks from renowned restaurants. Beyond preparing spectacular meals that would put most caterers to shame, the chefs might also teach cooking classes or lead farmers’-market tours. “When my mother and father came to town, I hired a chef to take us shopping,” says Kitchit co-founder Ian Ferguson. “Back at my apartment, he taught my mom how to butterfly a leg of lamb, then created a menu on the spot. My parents couldn’t stop talking about it.”

Chef Jeff Banker

Jeff Banker works the grill to create delicious summer dinner party recipes.Photo © Peden-Munk.

The rooftop grilling party on the pages here represents another singular Kitchit experience. The chef is Jeff Banker, who owns San Francisco’s terrific Baker & Banker with his (aptly named) pastry-chef wife, Lori Baker. Their phenomenal menu—an innovative salad with feta, strawberries and almonds; salmon with lemon and dill, grilled on a cedar plank; brown-butter chocolate-chip cookies—would be perfect for your next summer party. At least until your favorite chef is on Kitchit.

Best Summer Dinner Party Wines

Dinner Party Recipes and Wine Pairings

Perfect wine pairings for summer dinner party recipes.CPhoto © Peden-Munk.

Baker & Banker wine director Chris Tang shares his value picks:

2010 Domaine Félines Jourdan Picpoul de Pinet ($14)

Picpoul, a light white wine from southern France’s Languedoc region, is spectacular with all different kinds of seafood.

2010 Birichino Vin Gris ($15)

This citrusy Provençal-style rosé from a small winery in Santa Cruz, California, can pair with just about anything.

2010 Alpha Zeta Corvina ($10)

When it’s warm out, this versatile, vibrant young red from Italy’s Veneto region is refreshing served slightly chilled.