I love a good party. These days I struggle to keep up on a night out (I’m getting ooooold you guys!) but suggest an evening with good conversation, great food and delicious drinks and I’m sold.
While I do enjoy hosting, preparing an amazing evening alone is hard work, especially when there is food involved. So when private chef company La Belle Assiette offered to help me throw a dinner party I JUMPED at the chance – after all, who wouldn’t love a professional to come cook for them and their friends?!
How does a La Belle Assiette dinner party work?
La Belle Assiette offers its private chef service in cities across the UK, where you can select the type of menu you want to go for, from traditional Scottish, to each chef’s signature dishes, or any custom menu your heart desires.
There are three tiers of menu option: £39 per person, £59 per person, and £89 per person. The chef brings all the ingredients and anything else needed for the meal.
I was put in touch with new La Belle Assiette chef Nat, who wanted to work with me to create a custom menu at the £39 level made from fresh Scottish ingredients. One of my guests was vegetarian, and there are some standard dinner party foods I can’t stand (salmon and goats cheese, I’m looking at you), so Nat created a menu with two options for each course for my guests to choose from:
The big night
With a menu like Nat’s, I’m sure you’ll understand exactly how excited I was for the dinner party! But even so, I’m very much a control freak, and I wasn’t sure how comfortable I would be with a stranger cooking in my house.
I shouldn’t have worried. Nat turned up two and a half hours before plating up time to prepare the food, and needed no assistance from me. She was so organised and speedy with her preparation. She even offered to set my table, though I’d already done this is my excitement for my guests to arrive. It was great that I could leave her to the hard work while I dressed up for the evening.
I remember when my parents hosted dinner parties throughout my childhood my dad would be in charge of cooking and my mum would take over the hosting duties. I can confirm after having a chef for the evening that it is so much easier to have someone else worry about the food. As a total stresshead, it was good to be able to focus on what I enjoy most – making delicious cocktails and getting the party started!
However, I fear using a private chef through La Belle Assiette (which literally translates as ‘beautiful plate’) has set an unfairly high precedent for my parties. Not only were the dishes delicious but they looked great too – even on my cheap and bland crockery.
I personally went for the tomato salad, aubergine and cheesecake. I didn’t expect much from the starter as it was pretty much a plate of tomatoes. BUT it was incredible! The dressing was so flavourful and garlicky, and the almonds were the perfect touch.
Roast aubergine is something I cook often, so this was another tricky dish to win me over with. However, it was delicious and I loved the ingenious idea of topping the aubergine with ratatouille vegetables.
Dessert was the real show stopper. Nat’s deconstructed cheesecake made with a crushed almond base was one of the nicest sweet treats I’ve ever tasted. If only it had been twice the size!
Is hiring a private chef worth it?
In short – yes! Having an expert chef come to cater a private dinner is the perfect blend between going out and staying in. After looking at the La Belle Assiette website, I think some menus are better value than others, but I loved that with my menu option I was able to discuss likes and dislikes with Nat.
I think it’s a shame that the art of the dinner party is becoming less popular with twenty-somethings. Going out for a meal is great, but being able to craft the atmosphere, set the music, and have great conversations with your nearest and dearest is really special.
I pride myself on being a good cook, but my skills aren’t a patch on Nat’s! As well as enjoying her wonderful food, having a chef for the evening has given me some ideas for meals of my own.
If you fancy trying the private chef experience for yourself, you can browse chefs and menus in your area on the La Belle Assiette website.
I was gifted a dinner party by La Belle Assiette to review the service. However, all views are my own.