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Prêt-à-Gourmet

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Conventional wisdom has it that New Yorkers rarely cook. If there's any truth at all to this, it probably has less to do with small kitchens or tight schedules than with the fact that frequent exposure to world-class restaurants can sometimes leave you too spoiled to eat your own cooking. (Classic symptom: wondering whether Le Bernardin does takeout.) Well, now you can have your gourmet meal and cook it, too. This summer, eight top chefs -- Jean-Georges Vongerichten, David Burke, Gray Kunz, Charlie Palmer, Eric Ripert, Michael Romano, Sottha Khunn, and Peter X. Kelly -- will launch Impromptu Gourmet, a chef-designed do-it-yourself dinner kit. Each kit (there will be eight of them, one from each chef) will contain the makings of dinner for two. When you open the box, you'll find all the necessary ingredients vacuum-sealed into separate plastic pouches, already chopped, blanched, or otherwise prepped. All you need to do is finish the job, by pan-roasting the chicken, say, or searing the tuna. The ingredients themselves are fresh -- not frozen -- and of restaurant quality, which means that the greens and tomatoes are specially grown for the chefs and are superior to what's available in stores. Priced at $30 to $35, Impromptu Gourmet should be available by July for same-day delivery in Manhattan (for more information, see www.impromptugourmet.com). We tested Jean Georges Vongerichten's "boneless lamb with black-trumpet-mushroom crust, leek purée, and wild rice" (below). The instructions were so well detailed and easy to follow that we were able to sit down to a superb dinner within fifteen minutes of opening the box.


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