Your din­ner party will be served now

The catered din­ner is be­com­ing an in­creas­ingly fash­ion­able al­ter­na­tive to eat­ing out

The Jewish Chronicle - - FEA­TURES -

GWYNETH, STING AND Oprah all em­ploy one fullt i me. B u t p e r - sonal chefs are no longer just the hall­mark of the rich and fa­mous. In­creas­ingnum­bers of peo­ple are choos­ing to stay out of the kitchen and in­dulge in a bit of that star treat­ment — if only for one night. For those who can af­ford it, the catered din­ner party is an in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar op­tion.

But do­ing it Jew­ish-style doesn’t have to mean an evening of melon balls and gou­jons. Sarah Konn, 34, is the co-founder of Noir Cater­ing, a Lon­don-based com­pany which aims to bring the am­bi­ence of a restau­rant into your din­ing room. She and part­ner Michelle Lewis, 26, al­ways meet with clients be­fore tak­ing a book­ing.

She says: “We put to­gether a per­son­alised menu, which you would other­wise not get in a restau­rant. We cater for all di­etary needs, and make sure ev­ery­one around the ta­ble gets the very best.”

David Lagonell, Noir’s head chef, trained un­der Gor­don Ram­say. He makes kosher-style food with a twist of any­thing from Ja­panese to Chi­nese to In­dian. Pre­par­ing each course in ad­vance, David ar­rives at the din­ner party an hour be­fore guests. He is ac- com­panied by a wait­ress who serves — and, more im­por­tantly, clears up.

Type “per­sonal chef” and “din­ner party” into Google and you will in­stantly find dozens of com­pa­nies of­fer­ing a ser­vice sim­i­lar to that pro­vided by Noir. One such caterer is Ira Sil­ver­man, based in Leeds.

Like Noir, she also al­ways vis­its her cus­tomers in ad­vance to de­vise a suit­able menu and price it ac­cord­ingly.

“Ev­ery job is dif­fer­ent,” she says. “My em­pha­sis is on pro­vid­ing a high stan­dard of freshly cooked tai­lor-made menus cou­pled with per­sonal, ef­fi­cient, friendly and pro­fes­sional ser­vice. We can pro­vide for the most mod­ern tastes.”

Part of the at­trac­tion is the ser­vice. Hav­ing your own chef means you never have to com­pete with the next ta­ble.

“You would eas­ily spend be­tween £25 and £30 per per­son in a restau­rant, but you don’t know what kind of ser­vice you’re go­ing to get,” says Adam Blass, who had a sur­prise din­ner party for his 25th birth­day. “We were the cen­tre of at­ten­tion and the food looked and tasted great.”

Noir’s Michelle Lewis adds: “How of­ten is the wo­man of the house ac­tu­ally waited on?”

“Rarely,” says Tracey Fine, co-au­thor of The Jew­ish Princess Cook­book. For that very rea­son she and her sib­lings re­cently booked a din­ner party for their par­ents’ an­niver­sary.

“I had been to a friend’s house and she had this sushi chef cook­ing for ev­ery­one. It was bril­liant, so I asked for the chef’s num­ber,” says Tracey.

“My mum phoned me straight af­ter the party, rav­ing about it. It was so nice for her to sit down and not be in the kitchen. Never mind Jew­ish Princess, she was the queen that night.”

Some might say hir­ing a chef is an easy way out for lazy hosts, but Tracey dis­agrees. “I’ve never thought about do­ing it my­self be­cause I’ve al­ways loved cook­ing, but as long as you get friends around the ta­ble to eat and talk, why not?

“It’s about en­ter­tain­ing at home and not be­ing in a restau­rant. It cost more for five of us in a restau­rant last week than to cater for 10 at my par­ents’ house.”

But Georgie Tarn, Tracey’s life­long friend and co-au­thor, is­sues a word of warn­ing to hosts who try and hide their chefs away be­hind closed doors.

She says: “We know of some­one who had a catered Yom­tov and or­dered mini gefilte fish and knei­d­lach. When she served ev­ery­thing for the din­ner party, she passed it all off as her own. But the gefilte fish had been cooked in the soup, which ob­vi­ously wasn’t too im­pres­sive.”

It tastes even bet­ter if some­one else is there to do all the work for you

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