Hungry House, an Improvement on the Ghost Kitchen

Hungry House was founded last year by Kristen Barnett, the former C.O.O. of a company that managed so-called ghost kitchens, which prepare food solely for delivery apps. “I became frustrated with what I was seeing in terms of brand creation in ghost kitchens,” she told me. “I felt like it was turning into this kind of commoditized, low-quality, chicken-wing universe. The potential was so much greater for chefs, and for storytelling.” She had become friendly with Rawlston Williams, the chef-owner of the Food Sermon, a Caribbean-inspired counter-service restaurant that moved from Crown Heights to the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 2020 (and is now on hiatus). Williams invited her to use his kitchen; she facilitated the preparation and delivery of his food, and sought out other talented chefs and entrepreneurs in need of back-end support. For Season 1, she signed on Woldy Reyes, the Filipino American chef behind the boutique catering business Woldy Kusina; the Indiana-based power-restaurateur Martha Hoover and her pandemic project Apocalypse Burger; and Rachel Krupa, of the Goods Mart, a “socially conscious neighborhood convenience store,” in lower Manhattan, specializing in packaged products such as vegetable-pulp chips.

Barnett and her team work with each resident to devise a small set of offerings for pickup or delivery in Brooklyn (she plans to expand to Manhattan soon), via Hungry House’s Web site, plus apps including Seamless. (There’s also a customer-facing counter in the Navy Yard.) For Season 2, she added Chile Con Miel; Caffè Panna, Hallie Meyer’s superlative Gramercy ice-cream shop; and Pierce Abernathy, a charming recipe developer with a large social-media following.

It’s incredibly satisfying to watch Abernathy make a chopped salad on TikTok, in an A.S.M.R.-heavy video, and even more satisfying to have one delivered to your door—endive and radicchio tossed with crispy chickpeas, feta, Castelvetrano olives, pickled onions, apple, celery, and cucumber, in a bright mustard vinaigrette. Reyes’s “chicharon,” made from Smallhold oyster mushrooms and inspired by Filipino chicharon bulaklak (deep-fried pig ruffle fat), is truly spectacular: salty and sweet, crisp and juicy, dipped in coconut milk and dredged in rice flour and potato starch, then fried, and served with a rich yet zippy Fresno chili-coconut hot sauce. For his sisig, the usual pig parts are replaced with chewy cubes of fried tofu, coated in a “starter” from Omsom, a sauce-and-seasoning company founded by the Vietnamese American sisters Vanessa and Kim Pham: cane vinegar, garlic, calamansi purée, porcini powder, chili flakes—a murderers’ row of potential, fulfilled. (Dishes $6-$14.) ♦