Review: Private chef service, La Belle Assiette
The restaurant experience brought to home
If you’ve ever hosted a dinner party for more than two people, you’ll appreciate how much preparation and organisation goes into it. It’s not simply a case of deciding what to cook and getting on with it. There’s the deep clean of the house needed before the guests arrive, the shop for ingredients and wine to pair with the meal, alterations to the menu (accounting for fussy eaters or dietary requirements), the hours slaving away in the kitchen, your outfit planning and the spruce up just before the guests arrive; oh and if you’re going all out, the table decorations. I’m tired already just listing it all.
So when an invitation to try out a new private chef on La Belle Assiette’s books came through my inbox, naturally I was delighted to accept and take the pressure off. La Belle Assiette brings the restaurant experience to your home by working with professional chefs which you can book online. I had a little nosey at the company’s ‘How it Works Video’ and liked what I saw. How it works is simple…
- Head to labelleassiette.co.uk, pick a suitable date for you and your guests.
- Decide whether you will pay for the event yourself, or split the bill with guests.
- Choose a level of service, Temptation (£39pp) the entry-level, Prestige (£59pp) for a more sophisticated menu, designed for food enthusiasts or finally, Signature (£89pp+) the premium option with La Belle Assiette’s best chefs and a Michelin-Star gourmet experience.
- Browse through the menu options and select your chosen menu
- Create an account book and send your invites out!
On the evening of my dinner party, it was also my parents’ 32nd anniversary, so it was only right that they were involved in the evening. There were eight of us in total, seven guests plus me.
Our chef Tina, was due to arrive at 6pm and guests an hour later, so I left work early to get the house straight and myself spruced up. When I arrived home though I was met with a pretty big shock. Our home had been turned upside down and burgled. Every single one of my drawers and cupboards had been gone through and my possessions were strewn all over the floor. It was utterly devastating.
However, being that it was a special evening that we’d all been looking forward to, we were determined the show would go on. So after the police had been we knocked back a stiff drink, shut all the doors to the rooms that had been ransacked and kept to the kitchen and lounge, which thank goodness hadn’t been disturbed.
Tina and the photographer both arrived shortly after we discovered the mess and set straight to work prepping and setting up. I was visibly shaken so it was a welcome relief that Tina needed very little instruction from me as to where to find everything in the kitchen. To my surprise she seemed instantly at home and began preparing our five-course feast and chatting away to me about the delicious meal she was preparing for my guests.
The first appetizer (and a bonus not on our original menu) was a Butternut & Ginger Soup served in cute little espresso cups. As I tucked in, I noticed groans of delight ripple round the table as the creamy, fragrant soup slid down my guests throats. First-course big tick!
Then out came a little Salad of Carrots, Mung Beans & Labneh (Greek yogurt). I was apprehensive about this course before I tried it, as Simon’s pallet isn’t fond of beans of any sort. However, to my surprise all the guests tucked in without complaint and plates were cleared. The course had a great texture, crunchy and sweet and it was refreshing to see purple carrots used (the original colour of carrots if you don’t know).
Our starter was Sea Bass teamed with fennel, pink grapefruit & avocado. The bass was cooked with a gorgeous crispy skin but moist fillet flesh. Although the pink grapefruit wasn’t to my personal taste (too tart), I still thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the dish.
The main course of Spiced Beef Bastilla with spinach with pine nuts & raisins on a bed of smoked aubergine tahini stole the show. The beef was beautifully tender, the filo pastry light and crisp and I found the injection of sweetness from the raisins a dream.
Our sweet end came from a Pistachio Cake with a Rhubarb Crème Fraîche Sorbet alongside. Everyone commented on how divine this final course was, particularly the cake, which was especially light and fluffy.
PRICE: £320 for 8 people (including booking fee)
Considering how it began, the whole evening could have been a disaster, but in fact it was a beautiful blessing and having such a delicious meal prepared for us helped our family relax and forget entirely what we’d come home to. The menu went down well with all the guests (even the fussy ones) and it certainly didn’t feel like the entry-level, more like the Prestige; especially taking the presentation of each course into account, as well as the creative flavour combinations. Overall I would say Tina exceeded herself and I would without hesitation, book her services again. Initially, I’d imagined a private chef would be something just for special occasions. However, when you consider what you can save on taxies (if your guests stay over or live close by), marked-up wine in a restaurant (because you BYO) and a baby-sitter (for any parents), it more than meets the overall cost to dine out.
What my guests said
“Tina cooked up a wonderful combination of dishes and flavours that kept us entertained and delighted our pallets. There was nothing ‘usual’ or ‘standard’ about her menu. The delicate flavours and surprising combinations, all served with such visual flair were simply divine.” – Nikki
“The food was beautifully presented and very tasty with a lovely mix of flavours. Tina worked very hard alone and in an unfamiliar kitchen, never seen before, without any fuss. It was a truly enjoyable experience to have someone else completely take over all the work of preparing a meal in our own home. To be able to relax and join in with the evening and share in all the conversations without constantly having to juggle between cook and host was wonderful.” – Julia
Need to know
Tina is available to cook in your home in both Brighton and South-West London. She’s happy to work closely with you on a menu that suits your setting or guests and food is seasonal and locally sourced.
La Belle Assiette
The price of your private chef includes…
• The ingredients
• The chef’s travelling fees
• The cooking of the dishes
• The service
• The washing up
There’s also an £8 booking fee – no matter what package you chose or however many guests you have – but if you’re not satisfied, La Belle Assiette offers a money back guarantee.
*Disclosure: La Belle Assiette tests all its chefs with a jury of bloggers/journalists/foodies. I was invited to be part of its jury along with my guests and as a result, there was no charge for the dining experience.
**Photography by: www.markreaphotography.com