It’s no secret that I enjoy entertaining. Despite our cottage not being on the large size, I love having people back, and plying them with food and fizz.
However, as much as I like to potter in the kitchen, when one is slaving over the stove it’s not uncommon to miss the punch line of a story – or drop a utensil (or five) having been distracted by a particularly humorous tale.
So the idea of having a chef come to my home, prepare and cook the food, sounded rather too good to be true. Especially, when they promised to WASH UP as well (we don’t have a dishwasher so this is the stuff dreams are made of.)
My Chef – a catering and private dining service – was launched last year after Greycoat Lumleys spotted a gap in the market for an easy service for dining at home. They offer four tiers of chefs (ranging from Michelin trained chefs to graduate cooks) – to suit your style and budget.
I plumped for Liana Massiah-Kellman, (of the Michelin trained level) a chef with more than 15 years experience.
Having set a date for four friends to visit – rather than plotting what could be cooked with ease while chatting, and then dashing round the shops only to discover that the entire county has sold out of chorizo, this hosting experience was the most relaxed of my life.
Liana sent me through some menu options that fitted in with my (rather vague) preferences for the evening. I picked what we wanted and then gave it literally Not Another Thought. Liana tackled the shops. The logistics of cooking it all. And even selected wines that would best match each dish. All I had to do was arrange the table. And relax.
Liana arrived an hour and half before our guests. And in a matter of moments my little kitchen was awash with the fragrance of fine food.
Moments after the last of my friends came through the door there was chilled Prosecco Spumante in all our glasses and Procuitto & Manchego Croquettes (gorgeous cheesy little breadcrumb balls) served on a slab of slate for us to nibble on while we nattered.
Rather than the dashing back to the kitchen to check the starter hadn’t burned, or fallen apart, or failed to cook, in my usual fashion, I could instead sip contentedly on my glass of fizz secure in the knowledge that Liana was cooking up a storm.
And, goodness me, when dinner was served it was certainly the best that has ever come out of my kitchen.
For starters there was Lobster & Cray Fish Salad – Liana paired that with Mas Chevalier Peyrol (that’s a white wine, naturally.) For our main it was Beef Wellington, wrapped in Wild Mushroom Duxelle & Herbed Pancake – paired with Chianti Classico (which was super smooth.) And for dessert there was Clotted Cream Rice Pudding with Caramelised Pineapple – with a delightful dessert wine called Passito Di Panteller.
There was something of a stunned silence as each course arrived at the table – and each new bottle was uncorked. This is not fare that our friends are used to when visiting us. (Though my husband does cook a super Spaghetti Bolognese…)
Liana was a delight. Supremely knowledgeable and happy to answer even the more inane of our questions. And while we ate and chattered, and drank, she DID THE WASHING UP (I might have already mentioned this. Our cottage is open plan and I was worried this might be a bit awkward. But it wasn’t. At all. In fact, I don’t remember even seeing her do most of it.)
Five hours after she arrived, Liana left us full to bursting, contentedly sipping our desert wine, with not so much as a dirty spoon left in the sink. It was undoubtedly one of the most indulgent evenings of my life.
The cost of the evening (food, wine and Liana’s services all included) was £500. Which, for a dinner for six, cooked by a Michelin trained chef, with wine included, is actually really good value.
There was only one downside to the night. Though my husband tells me my cooking is “not too bad”, the fare that I serve up myself in future, is never, ever going to compare…
I fear we’ll be calling on the services of Greycoat Lumleys again. And again. And again…
Prices range from £150+food costs for a graduate cook as an ‘affordable luxury’, to the ultimate private Michelin dining experience for £375 to £475+food costs. Find out more at www.greycoatlumleys.co.uk/mychef/home.