I love hosting dinner parties as much as the next person, but with two boys under two, the idea of cooking an elaborate meal for my husband – let alone five dinner guests - seems a bit overwhelming. So, when the lovely team from chef-for-hire service La Belle Assiette got in touch to see if I’d like to host a dinner party for six at my home, I couldn’t wait to review their offering.
La Belle Assiette was founded in Paris in 2012 by friends Stephen and Giorgio. The concept, which consists of hiring a chef to host a dinner party in your home (including sourcing all of the ingredients, preparing the meal and doing the washing up afterwards) was a resounding success and they are now Europe’s leading chef service with more than 800 chefs on their books.
As a child, I always had lofty aspirations that one day I’d be in the financial position to have my own private chef (a girl can dream, right?!), however, as an adult, I realise that it’s just not feasible unless I win the lottery, so to be able to get a taste of the life of the rich and famous – even if it’s just for an evening – is a winner in my book. Plus, it provided a great opportunity for me and my friends to get glammed up for once, which is always fun!
Some of the Destination Delicious team members embracing dinner party posing, all the way...
How it works
You start by visiting the La Belle Assiette website, where you can read about the available chefs and their speciality dishes. After you select your chef and the date / time for your dinner party, the La Belle Assiette team gets in touch to confirm the details and to arrange a chat with your selected chef who can discuss any special requirements you might have.
The chef – Fabrizio Ricotta
We selected chef Fabrizio Ricotta who specialises in my favourite cuisine - traditional Italian. Coincidentally, he also has a pretty fabulous surname for a chef! Fabrizio has always had a passion for food since a very young age; one of his fondest memories is spending afternoons podding peas with his grandmother. Fabrizio has more than 10 years of experience in hospitality working for renowned restaurants such as Novikov, The Darwin Brasserie and Texture, currently holding 1 Michelin star.
As our dinner party was scheduled for 7:30pm, Fabrizio arrived at 6:15pm to begin set up. He came armed with a portable cooler (which held all of his ingredients), his own knife set and of course, chef whites, to ensure he looked the part! We provided use of our kitchen including all of the pots, pans and dishes he needed to prepare and serve the food.
After Fabrizio laid out his ingredients, he talked us through the courses he’d be preparing later on, all of which sounded superb. It was nice to be involved in the process at every step of the way and to learn about each of the dishes he was preparing and the provenance of the ingredients.
As it isn’t every day that I have a chef hosting a dinner party in my home (or any day for that matter), I took special care decorating the table in an effort to create a bit of wow factor that would create a beautiful backdrop for Fabrizio’s gorgeous food. A bit of faux greenery, some fresh flowers, crisp linen napkins and a few candles artistically scattered across the table and the scene was set!
When my guests arrived, we enjoyed a glass of champagne and a cheese board, while Fabrizio busied himself preparing the starter - fresh bruschetta made with bulls heart tomatoes. Although it’s a simple dish, the tomatoes were gorgeous and the grilled sourdough was a nice touch.
Starter: Handmade tortellini filled with spinach and ricotta, served with sun-dried tomato pesto
We loved this dish, which was perfectly cooked al dente and you can never go wrong with tomato pesto, in my opinion.
Mains: Roast loin of pork with a red wine jus served with roasted tenderstem broccoli and mashed potatoes
Pure comfort food at its finest - this was a hit with all of the guests and it was lovely paired with a medium bodied red wine.
Dessert: Cannolo with ricotta cheese, chocolate and pistachio
I love desserts, however, I found this one a bit heavy going, but the few small bites I had were lush.
All of the courses were lip-smackingly delicious and it was nice being able to spend time actually enjoying the meal and conversation with my friends, rather than spending half of the evening in the kitchen preparing the food and tidying up between courses. You don’t realise the sheer amount of time you actually spend away from your guests when you host, until you get the opportunity to be looked after all evening!
Having a chef prepare a meal in our home felt like the ultimate extravagance but it was also very convenient as it meant we didn’t have to leave our home to enjoy a restaurant quality meal, or source a babysitter for our children (although they did crash our dinner party a couple of times throughout the evening)! Good thing they're cute!
While the service isn’t cheap (starting from £45 a head), it is a lovely option for a special occasion when you really want to treat yourself and would prefer to stay in rather than hit the town.
We’d definitely recommend La Belle Assiette for anyone looking for a wow-factor foodie experience that’s certain to impress your guests.
To book your dinner party, visit www.labelleassiette.co.uk. For more information on chef Fabrizio Ricotta, view his profile:
While the Christmas party season is gearing up in full swing, many people have cocktails on the brain, but we think it’s just as good a time to enjoy some non-alcoholic tipples to create a bit of balance.
We recently discovered Borrago, a naturally delicious ‘non-alcoholic spirit’ that makes a great base for a variety of mocktails, which let’s be honest, beats drinking soda and juice when you don’t want to imbibe, but would like something a little bit more festive.
Designed to be mixed rather than drunk straight (it has a slightly odd taste on its own), it has a heady mix of floral and herbaceous notes that make it great for mixing with a wealth of different flavour combinations. If you're not sure what to mix it with, it's recommended to use it as a base for mocktails you would typically enjoy with either vodka or gin. Bursting with citrus and spice, we think it works really well as a base for citrus flavoured mocktail recipes.
We served our Borrago with fresh grapefruit juice, which was fabulous and would make a refreshing summertime drink. Other alternatives if grapefruit's not your vibe, include Borrago and tonic, (their signature serve is 25ml Borrago with 200ml tonic), or their ‘Windfall’ mocktail, a blend of Borrago, lemon juice, elderflower syrup and cloudy apple juice. With so many options to choose from, you'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to discovering your favourite Borrago concoction.
Borrago is available from www.borrago.com for £19.99 (500ml bottle).
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