N ow the title of this blog post sounds very swanky doesn’t it!?
A private chef in our home, how very bourgeoisie! But don’t be fooled, I wouldn’t want you to think we’d gone all fancy pants since putting up some dangly lights in our kitchen. Actually the title of this blog post came about on account of this here little blog and as with everything I get to experience, it’s something I’m abundantly grateful for! So if you’d like to hear more about how a top Brighton chef ended up cooking up a storm in my kitchen, then grab yourself a cuppa, sit back, relax and I will begin.
A few weeks ago I was contacted by a company called La Belle Assiette asking if we’d like to host a dinner party to validate one of their new chefs. Whilst all very experienced and well established, the company like to ask someone to host ‘validation dinner’ for each new chef before letting them ‘loose’ on the public (that sounds a bit sheepish doesn’t it). This gives the chefs an opportunity to showcase their skills and I guess prove they know their kidney beans from their cannellini beans (Ok Foodies there are probably better analogies out there, but lets stick with what we know!).
Similar to my reaction when we were asked to go to Hamburg, I pretty much had to catch my phone to stop it spinning into the air while I fast-tracked a reply…. so you’re offering me the chance for an award winning chef to cook in my kitchen, shop for all the ingredients and he’ll even do the washing up!! Let me think about this one for a moment….erm YES!!
As luck would have it, it was also my birthday a few weeks later and so we chose a date coinciding with that… and that is how I got to host my first ever dinner party, without even lifting a finger! Happy Birthday to me!!
Dean Heselden is a passionate and experienced local chef – some of you may remember his restaurant 24 Saint Georges from the Kemp Town area of Brighton. Whilst running this restaurant Dean was included in the Michelin Guide, awarded 2 rosettes by the AA Guide and was a finalist for the ‘Best Restaurant in the South of England’ in the Guardian newspaper. Since then he’s lived in Canada and now owns his own pop up restaurant Sea to Sky Hospitality.
Prior to my dinner party, Dean contacted me to ask whether we had any particular type of menu in mind. I told him we were pretty easy, but that there were to be three builders sitting around the table. He instantly understood what this meant and said he would come up with something ‘meaty’ to satisfy their pallet. Other than that he was given completely free reign to come up with a Menu and we were not disappointed with what we were presented.
Our Menu was sourced from local ingredients with the names of each course relating in some way to the local area. We had a vegetarian amuse bouche to start with a selection of local seafood and sea vegetables for the first course (The Beach). This was followed with seared and braised beef cooked in stout as our main (Memories of an Irish Bar), topped off with a selection of South Downs berries with wild lavender and Brighton honey panna cotta for desert (The Forager). All berries were foraged from the local area and Dean took the time to explain each dish to us as they were presented.
I think you can tell from the overexcited nature of this blog post that the experience was fantastic. I’m no foodie but I do enjoy good food and the chance to eat a lovely meal prepared by an experienced chef is something we really miss since having children (we struggle for babysitters and so its rare that we get the opportunity to go out at the same time).
Being that this experience was to be held in our home, the problem with childcare wasn’t an issue because we were able to choose a time that was convenient for everyone (Sunday afternoon). We shipped Ettie off to play to her cousins whilst Ollie stayed with us, and we were able to enjoy a rare few hours of adult only time without having to work through the complicated logistics of bedtime routine! This set up also worked for two of our guests who have a little girl a similar age to Ollie.
I made a joke in my opening paragraphs that the experience was very bourgeoisie, but it actual fact it is something we will be looking to book again (maybe the lights have made us fancy?). La Belle Assiette offer three packages; ‘Temptation’ at £39 a head, ‘Prestige’ at £59 a head and a Michelin quality ‘Signature’ service for £89 per head (you can find out more about these here).
Looking at these prices its very easy to see that hiring a private chef is actually very affordable when compared to going out for dinner. Particularly if you add on the cost of transport, alcohol and a babysitter for the evening.
As you may have gathered from previous posts, I enjoy food but am no master in the kitchen and do tend to become a little disheveled when the pressure’s on to get something finished. As such cooking three courses for six people definitely isn’t my idea of fun, hence the reason why until now I have never hosted a dinner party!!
La Belle Assiette took all of the stress out of hosting a dinner party and we were able to enjoy award winning restaurant quality food from the comfort of our own home – without having to worry about a babysitter!
Without a shadow of a doubt we will be booking through La Belle Assiette again in the future. The food was amazing, the atmosphere relaxed and best of all it was all totally stress free. Dean arrived, dazzled us with his skills and left without a trace (bar the little pieces of ginger and meringue that he didn’t use as part of the meal) Its something we can’t wait to experience again… and did I mention he done the washing up x
The Perfect dinner Guest
Our little tinker arrived back just as coffee was being served
La Belle Assiette kindly asked us to host a validation dinner in exchange for a review on their website. This blog post was written independently and as ever all views and opinions are my own.