Let's face it, my attention is quickly grabbed by anything food related so when an email dropped into my inbox with the subject line 'Invitation to try a private chef' it pretty much got opened straight away...
I adore food. I love eating it. I love exploring new flavours. I love going out to my favourite restaurants and eating my favourite dishes. However, the idea of having a private chef cook for me in my own home was something I hadn't even considered. It sounds expensive and luxurious when in actual fact, it is pretty accessible.
La Belle Assiette was founded to make entertaining at home easy and enjoyable. They match you with talented local chefs who look after the cooking, serving and the washing up so you can actually enjoy spending time with your guests. It's exactly like dining out at your favourite restaurant, except there's no worry about taxi's home, designated drivers or who's footing the bill!
Think airbnb meets dining. You simply put in your location, date and time and La Belle shows you available local chefs and their menus. Their pricing is easy to understand too and there are no hidden costs. They have three pricing levels: £39, £59 and £89 per guest. All you have to provide is the kitchen and the wine!
I was matched with local chefs Hendrinah and Munya who also run their own company called Sweet n' Seasoned. Once you have booked your chefs, they then get in touch with you to organise the menu and suss out any dietary requirements you might have. I told Munya we eat everything, and they sent us the menu which looked absolutely amazing. This was Hendrinah and Munya's Validation Dinner, which is like an introduction to La Belle Assiette, giving the Chefs an opportunity to showcase their skills.
I had to choose five willing participants to attend my dinner, so my boyfriend Dan, my parents and my friend (and fellow blogger) Gemma and her husband, Joss came along… Reluctantly as you can imagine! The whole evening was very relaxed and we simply had to enjoy the food and company whilst Hendrinah and Munya were cooking our food. It was a rather strange feeling, knowing someone else was cooking in your kitchen - my Mum was a bit apprehensive to start with but she soon stopped worrying once they got going!
Much to our delight, the evening started off with a selection of Canapés to whet our appetite. First up were the duck pancakes which were wrapped up in little cones. Succulent duck was served with a classic plum sauce - you c
an’t go wrong with that combination! Next was pan fried gnocchi in a saffron cheese sauce. Think of the richest white cheese sauce ever paired with tender gnochhi… Finally, we had seabass bites topped with ratatouille which were fantastic. The seabass was crispy and melted in the mouth, pairing perfectly with the vegetables. The food was impeccably presented on a slate tray in little dishes, complete with mini forks.
Excited for what was to come, we sat down for starters and were served a smoked haddock soufflé with diced roots and lobster consommè. The soufflé was perfectly puffed and married with the flavoursome consommè (which is like a rich stock) perfectly. It wasn’t too heavy as a starter but was still full of flavour! Hendrinah and Munya also made us some bread rolls which were such a lovely bonus to the meal. We had plaited rolls and little cobs which were very handy for soaking up the leftover consommè from our plates. The rolls were still warm when they landed on the table! They also left us a big loaf of bread to have for our breakfast the following morning which was a very welcome touch.
The main cours
e was incredible. A pan seared lamb loin was served on top of a pommes pureè and braised red cabbage with wild mushrooms, kale and a shiraz reduction. This was perhaps my favourite course - lamb is my absolute favourite meat and it was cooked to perfection. The pomme pureè was incredibly smooth and provided a perfect base for the vegetables. I will be forever jealous of how smooth chefs get their mash! The wild mushrooms added some texture and an earthy, nutty flavour to the dish, with the kale bringing some freshness.
Not that we wanted the dinner to end, but dessert arrived and it was a feast for both the eyes and palette! It was a hot, gooey, chocolate pudding served with a pistachio set cream and macerated black cherries. This got a resounding ‘mmmmm’ around the table as everyone took their first mouthful. The pudding was rich and very chocolatey with a melted centre. The pistachio cream provided some lighter contrast to the black cherries which married all the flavours together.
After the meal, we were left to enjoy a few chocolates and some coffees whilst Hendrinah and Munya cleared away. Within half an hour we had a spotless kitchen! It was great not having to worry about checking on food and the mess afterwards. Safe to say my parents and I went to bed quite content that we didn't have any washing up to come down to in the morning! For reference, our dinner would have been the £59 per head price point.
If you are thinking of something to do for your next birthday or celebration, I highly recommend considering a private chef. The process of finding one with La Belle Assiette is so simple and it definitely isn't as expensive as you think. Plus - there is no washing up to be done! As long as you have a kitchen and a table for your guests, you can welcome a chef into your home.