No-stress dinner party? Call in the private chef!
Private dining is bringing the dinner party back out of hibernation. Just relax and let a private chef shop, cook, serve and clear away.
Back in the day, holding a dinner party often meant hours of organisation, a flustered day in the kitchen and exhaustion before the guests arrived – the stress! No wonder they fell out of fashion. How does a highly qualified chef taking over your kitchen for the night, serving up a fabulous restaurant-style meal and clearing up afterwards grab you instead? Private chef Miranda Shearer of The Kitchen Garden Somerset, who produces tailormade, original menus for dinners, lunches and brunches around Somerset and beyond, explains why private dining is on the up.
Restaurant style food in your own home
You get the field to fork experience, via a home kitchen. The vegetables are picked that morning, the fish is fresh off the boat. The meat is hung down the road. And it’s all cooked by professional chefs, with extensive culinary experience. I trained with some of the best in the West Country, worked at Highgrove for Prince Charles, as a private chef for Sir James Dyson and set up the kitchen at The Firehouse Somerset (which is where where I met my co-chef Carol, who’s been head chef in some of Somerset’s best-loved restaurants).
A completely bespoke menu
Ever looked at a menu and though, ‘nah, don’t really fancy anything on here’? Or that there’s plenty of choice for meat eaters but nothing very exciting for veggies? That never happens with private chefs, as they’ll devise a tailormade menu which takes into consideration all your likes/preferences, dislikes and any special requirements for each guest. Private chefs are very versatile and can usually cook anything; we serve everything from modern, ‘decadent’ or traditional; French, Italian or Spanish and more.
You can choose your own wines (obvs) but if you’d like some inspiration or advice, private chefs tend to be pretty clued up about what wines go well with what foods and can suggest pairings.
Championing and supporting local food and drink producers
Private chefs usually know all the best local food and drink producers. For example, we get fresh Brixham fish from Phil Bowditch Fish in Taunton, huge vegetable boxes from Addy and Rita at Pitney Farm Market Garden and meat from The Meat Men in Kingston St Mary. We like to support young, up and coming growers and producers too, like Hugo Van Dorssen in West Bagborough, who’s in his second year of growing the most fabulous vegetables and the young, fun and knowledgeable Jack from The Exmoor Game Co.
There’s no shopping
No need to do battle with a supermarket, spend hours on an online shop or dash out at the last minute because you’ve forgotten some vital ingredient. Private dining chefs arrive with every single thing they need to cook you and your guests a fabulous meal.
There’s nothing for you to do on the day (apart from opening the door to let the chef in, that is). As well as arriving with all that’s needed for the meal itself, private chefs also come armed with stuff like tablecloths, linen napkins, candlesticks and candles to dress the table. They’ll bring out the nibbles (and we’re not talking crisps and nuts), cook the meal (don”t worry if you haven’t got state-of-the art oven) and serve it up, leaving you to relax, tuck in and enjoy it all with your friends or fam.
No clearing away or washing up
You can avoid that I-can’t-face-going-into-the-kitchen-the-morning-after moment the next day. Private chefs will clear the table, wash everything up, put things away and will often leave your kitchen cleaner than when they arrived (not judging!).
No surprise bill at the end
You agree a budget at the outset so there’s no ‘how’d it come to that?’ bill on a silver tray with the mint and coffee. Admittedly, private dining costs a fair bit more than ordering in some takeaway but when you consider you’re getting a restaurant quality meal in your own home, put together by professional chefs who’ve spent a day or so devising the menu, shopping for ingredients, prepping beforehand as well as cooking on the day, it’s not expensive – and it’s such a treat.