I am not a great cook. But then nor do I pretend to be, you won’t find me bragging about something I have just created whilst all my guests look at me with a face that says “is she looking at a different plate of food?”. I have various gadgets that help me create edible food but if you come to our house for dinner you are coming to sit at our kitchen table, be plied with wine, chatted to until the small hours, and at some point some food will appear. More often than not it will be a takeaway.
That doesn’t mean I don’t plan in advance and then spend all day preparing it if I am cooking, I do. It just all seems to go a bit wrong at the last minute. And if Mr B is cooking he tends to have a laid back approach to timings so don’t expect to eat until at least 9pm, by which point you will have been plied with booze and be so hungry you don’t care what it is.
So when La Belle Assiette got in touch and asked if I would like to host a dinner party where they would send a chef, and all the food, I couldn’t have replied any faster. La Belle Assiette has been around for a while, catering for people reguarly in their own homes, I can see them being a godsend to those that need to provide high class plates of food where my “chicken thing” just wouldn’t cut it.
La Belle Assiette then put us in touch with a chef in our area (they are all over the country so there is definitely one near you) who then emailed me to discuss various menu options. Did we want fish? Would we prefer meat? Or an all veggie menu? The choice was ours really and then Claudia, our chef, came up with some suggestions for us to then choose from. If you log on to their website you can do all of that, finding a chef who’s menus you like the sound of, and who is free on the date you have in mind.
Claudia has been cooking since she was tiny, you could say it is in her blood. Raised in Tuscany there is an Italian influence to her cooking and her passion for what she does is obvious.
She arrived at 5.30pm with wheelie bags full of ingredients and we basically left her to it. I had been worried about our kitchen not being big enough, the table being in the way, cats being a nuisance but Claudia couldn’t have done any more to put me at ease. For two hours she just busied herself with creating stunning food and when the time was right she served all our guests, and then cleared up at the end. The only preparation I had done was to lay the table, and Bruce had sorted out the wine. In his words “working out how much we would need for dinner, not how much I would have to keep plying guests with before I served up at 10pm”.
Canapes were served as Bruce and I chatted to our guests in the lounge:
Before we then asked to come to the kitchen and sit down for our starter
It was hard to believe that all of these things had been created in our kitchen, in such a short space of time (and from such high quality ingredients too)
The main course was cooked to perfection, and served by Claudia who timed her “interrupting” us to do so when there was a lull in the conversation. I was worried about having a dinner party with a chef preparing food right behind us, that it would be intimidating, or noisy but that couldn’t have been further from how things were, in fact we didn’t know Claudia was there until she started taking our empty plates in readiness for the next course (and when I say empty I mean they were pretty much licked clean).
And as for the tiramisu, what can I say? I chose this from Claudia’s suggestions as she is Italian, so I wanted to see it made her way, and also it is my favourite dessert. I can honestly say this is the best I have ever tasted. Made the Tuscan way it is very different from the heavy version you may be used to.
There are various menu and pricing options starting at £39 which for three courses and four different canapes I thought was good value for money and would definitely consider doing it again.
It meant that we could spend time chatting to our guests, not finishing off food, and that during the day we were free to do other things. Heck I even spent the afternoon at a new shopping centre and didn’t get home until just before Claudia arrived! When I consider what we would normally spend in Waitrose on a three course dinner with canapes this really didn’t work out to be that much more expensive.
Having a private chef is not just for the super rich anymore, my friend