Last year we enjoyed a delicious dinner party cooked by a private chef in the comfort of a friend’s flat. It really was quite splendid, great food, convivial company without any of the niggles and annoyances of going out to eat (mainly caused by fellow diners’ behaviour). Had it been our house we wouldn’t have had to go anywhere, do anything or clear up, and we’d be without the dreaded journey home which can so easily take the edge of an evening – negotiating drunken crowds on the tube late at night, or the expense of a taxi. I find it fairly hard to hear if there is more than a whisper of background noise so find these lofty echoing restaurants (or anywhere that plays music) more of a chore than a pleasure. If we had a little more space we’d be completely sold on the idea of hiring a private chef but the problem is how do you find someone that is good and reliable?
French Company La Belle Assiette take the stress out of finding a private chef and I was recently invited by Fiona to try out their service. You specify a date, time and location to search for any of their 550 chefs. You can narrow the selection by cuisine, even the language the chef speaks, and choose from a selection of menus from a selection of chefs. some of the chefs would have been validated at a test dinner party organised by La Belle Assiette, but there are numerous reviews for each.
Prices vary according to the menu, and how many are dining – The Ambassador Menu B we had cooked by César Fernandez ranges from £132 each for 2, down to a very reasonable £44 for 8 diners or more.
Once booked your chef will discuss the menu with you and will arrive a few hours before the meal finish the final preparations and then cook in your kitchen. What was especially delightful was the interaction with César, who chatted to us before the dinner and would have been happy to share tips and techniques too, every course was introduced and there was plenty of time to answer questions. Fiona our hostess happy to leave César to the business of cooking, and was handed back immaculately clean and tidy at the end of the evening.
I was very impressed. Our current flat does not really have the space to have more than 4 for dinner, which makes it slightly less economical, but for a special party either in a friend’s house, or when we have more space I’ll certainly be using the service.
By dining at home you can drink your own wine too with no restaurant markups or corkage charges, we were treated to a selection of excellent Californian wines from Carmel Road and Kendall-Jackson.
Wines provided to accompany the meal were:
Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Pinot Noir 2012 – light, fruity pinot with notes of strawberry and raspberry – winedirect.co.uk – £15.50
Carmel Road Monterey – lovely crisp and minerally Riesing – corneyandbarrow.com – £61.84 for a case of six bottles
Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay 2013 – packed with tropical fruit and delightfully fresh – thedrinkshop.com – £14.02
Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2011 – lovely and smooth, tasting of pear with notes of vanilla – thedrinkshop.com – £18.92
Fuss Free Flavours was the guest of La Belle Assiette