Your dinner party will be served now
The catered dinner is becoming an increasingly fashionable alternative to eating out
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