So anyways, my bestie from Wellington and her husband were here on holiday last month – I told you about that here. We had a fabulous time on their holiday – eating and drinking at some great local restaurants. The best of those was, however, right here in our own home. Fine dining, to be precise, at home.
We’ve done our fair share of fine dining with these particular friends, but this time we wanted a different experience, a more complete experience – so we hired a chef for the night. Swanky or what?
We first came across Alan Dawes when Grant and I attended a French cooking class at Spicers Tamarind – I told you about that here. Looking for something unique to give my friend for her upcoming 60th birthday, I was contemplating booking the same cooking class for her – until we discovered that Alan (who has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants in France and the UK and for chefs such as Marco Pierre White) also worked as a private chef.
A quick call to my friend’s husband (who is a bit of a wine expert ) followed. He enthusiastically offered to organise the wine, we organised the chef and the surprise was set for during their recent visit.
Keeping the secret was the hardest part of the whole project (well, that and tidying my kitchen benches without giving the game away…). All we had to do was clean the benches for him, set the table and provide the wine, glassware and utensils. Too easy.
Alan arrived at 5pm – two hours before the first course was to be served. As well as the ingredients he brought with him the crockery for plating.
While the food was, quite frankly, fabulous, part of the joy of this experience was watching Alan work in the kitchen as he completed his mise en place, taking the opportunity to learn new techniques and to ask him about the ingredients and flavours we’d be eating. It was like our own private masterclass.
Prior to service, Alan told us a little about himself and how he came to be in the business of private cheffing (spoiler alert – it came about due to Covid’s impact on the hospitality industry). He also explained each course before he served it and even cleaned everything away once we’d finished.
Alan chooses his ingredients carefully and wherever possible sources his produce from local suppliers – like this Woombye cheese, the amazing mushrooms, the macadamias and the veg and fruit. The truffle came from Tasmania.
So… what did we eat? I’m glad you asked. Here we go…
First course: Falls Farm pumpkin, caramel, apple and rosemary
Second course: Kingfish sashimi, cara cara orange, hakurei (turnips), coconut
Third course: Chicken, mustard, Yandina macadamia, date
Fourth course: Wagyu, Falls Farm leeks, artichoke puree, black garlic puree
Fifth course: Woombye cheese, duck fat potato, mountain top mushrooms, Falls Farm honey, generously (and decadently) topped with black truffle (my dish of the night)
Sixth course: Winter strawberry, white chocolate, basil, raspberries
The food was exceptional – each course building on the one before – so much so that I was hard-pressed to choose my dish of the night.
As an experience, it’s one we’d do again – given the right occasion. As for the cost, yes, it is expensive – we are, after all, talking about fine dining. It is, however, cheaper than going out for a similar meal and you don’t have the bill shock when you open the wine list.
If you want more information, check out Alan’s page here – and be prepared to book ahead.