Could a personal chef be the answer to all your dining dilemmas?
PUBLISHED: 00:00 14 October 2014 | UPDATED: 09:53 14 October 2014
Private dining is a burgeoning business in Yorkshire with a growing number of chefs taking restaurant standard cookery into people’s homes.
Imagine enjoying the luxuries of fine restaurant dining without having to leave the comfort of your own home. You could be sipping champagne in your carpet slippers (if such was your wont) without even having to think about tackling the washing up afterwards.
Private dining is a burgeoning business in Yorkshire with a growing number of chefs taking restaurant standard cookery into people’s homes. So what’s the appeal? We cook, we serve and we do the dishes; essentially it’s completely stress-free,’ said Ashley Hyde from York-based Baba Ganoush Private Dining which she runs with chef husband Matthew. ‘All the client needs to do is relax and enjoy the feast.’
Yves Quemerais, who relocated from Paris to Harrogate in 2012 to set up French Chef at Home, agreed: ‘There’s no stress, no time wasting, no shopping and no mess. It’s cosier in your own house than in a restaurant but you get the same standard of cookery.
‘You can set your own rhythm for your celebrations, and you are in control though you don’t have to lift a finger.’
Private dining at home also gives you free time to mingle with guests as most companies employ servers so you won’t need to ferry food to and fro and can simply sit down to a piping hot meal with your guests.
‘We always do a kitchen consultation before hand to ensure we are fully prepared,’ said Ashley. ‘We bring our own cutlery, crockery and linen as well as all our own kitchen equipment, and leave the kitchen as we found it.’
What’s more, inviting a chef into your home allows you to create a totally unique, bespoke experience. According to chef Chris Pragnell, who recently set up an outside catering arm to his York-based Café No 8 (cafeno8.co.uk), the world is your oyster when it comes to choosing what to serve.
‘You can choose whatever you would like on your menu depending on what’s in season,’ he said. ‘We always source from local suppliers, so all you have to do is sit back and let us take care of everything.’
Matthew Hyde from Baba Ganoush has spent 12 years in restaurants and hotels across Yorkshire, with wife Ashley clocking up almost a decade in hospitality and events, while Yves from French Chef at Home (frenchchefathome.com) has worked as a chef de cuisine for more than 25 years, training under the acclaimed Alain Ducasse. He’s also worked as a private chef in Paris for governors, politicians and chief executives and has even cooked for Sir Richard Branson.
South African chef Whaheed Rojan, who has cooked for dignitaries and celebrities including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Pierce Brosnan, has recently joined the growing ranks of private chefs with Round Table Dining (theroundtabledining.co.uk) in Harrogate.
‘Private dining is like putting on a show, my guests can watch me work and, at the same time, ask for recipes and cooking tips,’ he said.
Having travelled the world as a private chef on the Queen Mary II liner, he’s also able to bring a flavour of many different continents, including boerewors (sausages) and lamb sosaties (skewers).
Christmas (sorry to mention the C-word in October, but it’s already stealthily creeping up on us) is obviously a prime time for employing the services of a professional chef. Last year, Yves sprinkled a little Parisian fairy dust on proceedings with a champagne-themed, five-course Christmas meal, including poached oysters with champagne jelly, morels gratin with champagne sabayon and roasted sole filets with champagne beurre blanc.
‘We never tire of seeing the look on people’s faces when they take their first bite,’ said Ashley. ‘Our company name (Baba Ganoush) means ‘poor man’s caviar’ and that’s the whole idea really – to take simple ingredients and create something mouth-wateringly fantastic.’
It can be quite an experience for the chefs themselves too, as Whaheed discovered when he was invited to cook at a private event in South Africa.
‘I was introduced to the guest of honour and my legs began to shake,’ he said. ‘The guests said “Chef that was an extraordinary meal and I would like the recipe”. I replied “It was my pleasure Tata” (meaning father) as I found myself addressing the father of our nation, Mr Nelson Mandela.’