I love getting my friends and family over for dinner. You know me, I’m a right Monica Geller; “I’m always the hostess!” It’s stressful, but it’s the kind of stress I feed off of (literally!). I love setting the table up, deciding what cook for everyone and then serving it up. But more than anything else I love having all my favourite people around my kitchen table. My only problem with the whole hosting game is that I’m constantly having to leave that table to go check on the food, top up drinks and then… ugh, clean everything up. I keep having to disappear in the middle of one of my Dad’s stories, or the latest TV and movie tip-off from my brother and that, my friends, is the worst part of always being the hostess. Sometimes it’d be nice to just sit at that same table and soak up a Sunday night dinner with the family without having to actually serve it myself.
I thought I’d have to win a Grammy or the lottery to be able to hire a private chef, and since my singing’s only shower-worthy and I can’t remember the last time I won anything on the lottery – I thought I was way off. But it’s actually more affordable than you’d think! La Belle Assiette is a website that allows you to hire local chefs and caterers to come and serve a meal in your home with prices starting from as little as £39 a head. Chefs call up and discuss the menu with you beforehand – taking into consideration any special dietary requirements or fussy eaters you might have – and then they buy all the ingredients, cook the meal and – better yet – clean up afterwards! So, when an email popped into my inbox asking whether I fancied opening up my little kitchen for the night to local chef, Manveer Holloway, how could I possibly refuse? 🙂
I’m a bit possessive of my kitchen – I always kick people out when I’m cooking, so I wasn’t quite sure what it was going to be like having a stranger come and use my cheap old pans and crusty oven (I did have a panic the night before that nothing was chef-clean enough and scrubbed until my arm almost fell off), but Manveer was friendly and professional right from the get go. He arrived a few hours before dinner to set up and prepare the food and got right down to it! I could just sit back and wait for my guests to arrive. But I didn’t do that, it felt strange not mucking in! So I went and had a chat with Manveer instead, asking him about his experience in the catering industry and the six months he spent working on the tiny channel island of Aldernay.
The meal kicked off at eight with some bread and olives on the table, followed by a starter of Tikka Marinated Chicken, pickled cue and courgettes (which were absolutely stunning) and mint raita. And for my Mum, who only eats fish and vegetables; wild mushroom arancini, pea shoots and truffle oil.
When Manveer called me a few weeks before the meal to discuss the menu, he suggested rump of lamb for a main course. Now, I’m not normally a huge fan of lamb, but I knew that Sunny, my Dad and my brother would be all over it – so I said yes! Turns out, I hadn’t really given lamb a chance because the lamb Manveer cooked was absolutely delicious! Accompanied with rosemary and garlic mash, pea and butternut puree, fresh leek and red wine sauce it was probably the nicest Sunday Dinner to ever grace my kitchen table!
While we feasted on lamb, my Mum polished off a fillet of seabass with sauteed potatoes, spiced tomato sauce, tempura broccoli and cauliflower florets. I was amazed how Manveer perfectly timed two very different meals, cooking the fish to perfection while keeping the lamb tender.
To finish off, we had a deconstructed lemon tart with candied lemon peel, limoncello jelly and earl grey syrup (which I loved so much I had to try making myself!). While we all ate and chatted, Manveer worked hard to get the kitchen back clean and in working order.
What can I say? The whole night was a total treat from start to finish! If you’re looking to host a dinner party with a difference then I’d definitely check out La Belle Assiette – your guests will be nattering about it for months!
Massive thanks to La Belle Assiette and Manveer for such an amazing evening – and to Anna from Exposure for the photographs (it was so nice to dig into a plate of food without me having to photograph it first!).
Have a great week everyone! ♡