Ever eaten out and thought: “I could do this at home”? Now is your chance to prove it. Since lockdown prevents us visiting restaurants, chefs are creating DIY culinary kits that let you replicate their dishes at home. All you need to do is add elbow grease, culinary flair, the odd ingredient and make a call on the level of Gordon Ramsay-esque expletives you’d like to season your dishes with. But what’s it like prepping your own restaurant food at home? We tested a number of kits to find out.
Koffee Pot, Manchester
Contents: Everything you need to make a US-style meaty pancake breakfast
This Manchester institution’s offering is less recipe kit than an immersive experience, given the breakfast-themed Spotify playlist, quiz and colouring sheet for kids. Frying the sausage patties, potato rostis, bacon and eggs and drizzling them with syrup is easily the most fun lockdown kit experience of the lot, given the soundtrack and quiz. It’s also a gut-buster of a breakfast, as looks to be the case for the other kits they offer: DIY burger kit or DIY fry-up (vegan or meat).
£20-25 for a four-person kit. Available for delivery across Greater Manchester via thekoffeepot.co.uk
Chin Chin Labs, nation-wide
Contents: The ingredients for baking a griddled cookie dessert – bar water and oil
Given the gooey, oozy deliciousness that results from this kit’s 10-minute cook time, you can see why Chin Chin Labs has been called England’s best ice-cream parlour. Its Griddled Cookie Dough kit replicates a menu dish that’s essentially a deep-pan choc chip cookie, but with a centre so gooey you could use it as moisturiser. The most fiendishly difficult culinary feat involved? The ability to stir. Joyously idiot proof – just a shame it doesn’t come with Chin Chin’s ice cream.
£8.95. Available nationally via chinchinicecream.com
Lussman’s, various locations
Contents: The menu of ‘ready to cook’ dishes varies weekly.
There’s very little ‘D’ in this mini-chain of lauded sustainable restaurants’ DIY offerings. The cooking requirements for our parchment packages of ‘cod cheeks in a bag’ and ‘sea bass en papilotte’ – were no more tricky than 25 minutes in the oven. Dishes vary week by week, but our selection was very easy and full of flavour.
Prices vary. Available for delivery across Harpenden and St Albans or for collection in St Albans, Harpenden, Tring, Hertford and Hitchin via lussmanns.com
The Vurger Co, London
Contents: Big New York Melt vegan burgers, plus chips
“Get your frying pan nice and hot” say the instructions for cooking the frozen Beyond burger patties. What they strangely omit is: “Prepare for an eruption of hot oil that will transform your kitchen into 1st century Pompeii”. Peril over, they’re topped with cheese and whisked under the grill before assembling. It’s very straightforward, the patty is astonishingly meaty and the results are satisfyingly close to a restaurant burger.
Takeout box for 2, £17.95 and £34.95 for four. Available across London (and nationwide imminently) via thevurgerco.com
Pizza Pilgrims, nation-wide
Contents: The ingredients for two Neapolitan-style margherita pizzas
Follow the online instructions for this kit and you’ll have a fun pizza-making experience that’s part tutorial, part gastronomic experience. Follow the four-step card it comes with, however and you’ll wind up wrestling nightmarishly gluey dough from your pans, wailing: “Why would it not specify flouring the dough?”
Done right though, this is hugely satisfying and the 48-hour fermented dough comes out puffy as a duvet. It also fills you with admiration for pizza chefs, given the tricksiness of creating a pizza wider than a side plate.
Frying pan pizza kit for 2, £15. Available nationwide via pizzapilgrims.co.uk
Dylan’s, St Alban’s
Contents: Varies weekly. Ours featured ingredients for pork belly, apple mash, treacle jus and roast potatoes
No one could accuse this well-loved Hertfordshire gastropub of dumbing down recipes for the home cook. The 48-hour-plus prep for its pork belly involved two separate day-long fridge sessions, two turns in the oven and learning how to cut parchment into a moisture seal called a cartouche.
It’s very heavy on logistics, but the flavour-packed results are impressively cheffy and it’s a lovely exercise in upskilling the nation’s wannabe Masterchefs.
£35 kit for four. Available for collection or delivery across St Albans (£5 charge). Email [email protected]
La Mia Mamma, nation-wide
Contents: All the ingredients to make two kinds of ravioli, plus two pre-made additional courses
This Italian restaurant’s chefs are normally a rotating cast of mediterranean mammas from different Italian regions. But their Mamma’s Classics kit lets you be the mother – so to speak – as you roll dough into ravioli, fill them with pre-made sauces (ricotta and spinach or potato and scamorza) and dine on a pre-made four-course meal kit. Getting thin ravioli is difficult without a pasta machine, but the flavours are beautiful – and the volume of food is enough to make you exclaim: Mamma Mia!
£35 for a 2-4 person kit. Available nationwide via www.lamiamamma.co.uk
Patty & Bun, nation-wide
Contents: Most of the ingredients to make four vegan or meat cheeseburgers – minus tomatoes, lettuce and ketchup
Judging by this DIY burger kit’s instructions, Patty & Bun are masters of understatement. Once you’ve fried bacon and patties, melted cheese under the grill and placed components onto a bun, you’re promised something ‘Pink n juicy’. But a few bites of their Ari Gold burger left a plate so slick with drippings that it left a veritable beef soup. Easy, tasty and a real treat for fans of a pink patty.
£25, available nationwide via pattyandbun.co.uk
The Good Egg, nation-wide
Contents: Everything you need to ‘bake your own babka’ – except milk.
This London-based Middle Eastern restaurant’s lockdown response: letting people bake one of its best-loved dishes – the braided sweet jewish bread that is a chocolate tahini babka. The five-hour prep time is ‘Bake Off’-levels of time-consuming, but the instructional video makes it fool-proof and the results are sticky, soft and moreish.
£24.95. Available for delivery across England and Wales via thegoodegg.co