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.
What an amazing surprise for your friend, one I’m sure she will never forget. And six courses that look totally mouth watering! I do like the idea of bringing fine dining into the comfort of my own home plus you get to watch and learn. An absolutely brilliant idea
It really was the complete experience…so much fun, so much yum and no washing up!
What a fun experience!!
Jo, I love birthdays where everyone gets a gift. Your friend must have been thrilled. I did this same thing for Malcolm’s 40th (many years ago), and highly recommend the experience.
Your meal looks Michelin quality and you photographed the process and the plates beautifully. You have certainly upped the game for ‘what’s on your plate’ this month.
It was certainly fine dining with a capital F. Every single plate was perfect.
Love this! When my SIL and BIL tied the knot in a simple town hall ceremony, they brought in a chef to their home for the wedding dinner afterwards. It was a great experience (and a delicious meal, of course!). What a delightful post! Thanks for sharing,
It would be such a good idea for a special party like that.
Best 60th birthday present ever! Almost makes we want to turn 60 all over again.
The photos made me drool…even after I had just eaten!
I was going to post the video of him shaving the truffle but you could hear us all talking in the background.
Wow! What a fabulous experience and the food looks amazing! Thanks for sharing those delectable dishes! Bernie
It was certainly a very special culinary experience – and we felt very special doing it.
That looks fantastic! What a wonderful present and experience.
It was the full experience. I could have watched him work for hours – but the eating was even better.
I can imagine!
What a lovely gift idea and a fabulous way to spend quality time together. I bet you felt a little bit special having an in-house chef prepare dinner. Food looks delicious. x
We dressed up for the occasion and certainly did feel special.
Sign me up! That is such a great idea and certainly a gift your friend will never forget. Although it probably would be pricy to fly Alan to Southern California (do you think he’s be ok staying in our guest room? 🙂 ), I’m confident I could find something similar here. If it wasn’t a gift, it would also work to find another interested couple and go in together on the cost. Thank you for sharing your experience!
It’s such a great idea isn’t it? We always thought it was something for people far posher than us, but it really isn’t.
Wow! That is whole next-level stuff right there Jo. I’m sure your friend was blown away and it would have been the perfect big birthday present for a foodie – with the added bonus of sharing the experience…..and no cleaning up afterwards – so many boxes ticked!
Wow! I’ve never experienced this sort of dining before – although I have heard lots about it. Thank you for sharing this luxurious experience with us! The food looks so amazing!
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