Being in the industry myself I've never really considered hiring a private chef to cook and serve dinner in my own home, but I think I might be hooked! La Belle Assiette offered me the chance to test a stress free dinner party pairing me up with local Suffolk chef Richard Johnson for his Validation Dinner. You see all chefs registered with the online booking platform have to be validated by 'The Jury' to make sure they are of the highest calibre. So my family helped me with the task and six of us sat down to a superb three course dinner last night. Our 'Chef Richard' arrived at 6pm smartly dressed in his whites; I was hoping that the neighbours would spot him because it makes you feel rather grand having a chef turn up to cook the dinner. My daughters wondered if this is what it was like being in the Kardashians because we didn't have to lift a finger, which meant we drank a whole lot more than usual as we made cocktails in the sitting room, while Richard prepared the dinner. We'd agreed a 7.45pm meal time and Richard was relaxed as he served the dinner at a good pace to suit us all. First he delivered a big basket of bread complete with his homemade rosemary, garlic and black peppercorn infused oil with balsamic to dip into. Followed by the starter of his own cured salmon gravadlax with golden beetroot, avocado and dill sauce vierge. So pretty on the plate and causing a few ooh's and aah's as Richard set down the starter in front of us all. A great beginning to the meal with the light, delicious, piquant flavours of the cubed salmon echoed by wonderful aromas of freshly chopped dill. Pork belly followed with dainty and beautifully buttery pomme duchesse, purple carrot, a wafer of crispy Serrano ham and Cognac jus. The pork was meltingly tender, crackling crunchy and all the plates empty when Richard came to clear them. The lemon tart for dessert was a deconstructed affair which included fabulous buttery Breton sable biscuits (Richard is classically French trained also working for many years in France) dollops of homemade lemon curd and raspberries of different textures. The sharp and lemony dessert delivered to the table in a waft of sensational, citrus aroma. Richard has his own coffee roasting company and was keen for us to sample his Mr Beans smooth, rich and robust blend so as a surprise finale he delivered coffee into the dining room and we rounded off the meal. For the first time when entertaining I didn't have to get up from the table, except to fetch more wine, so if there's a downside to this it's the amount of wine I drank because I didn't have to worry about burning the dinner. Richard did everything! What a charming chef he proved to be too, explaining the dishes as he served, cooking the meal and washing everything up afterwards. Not a trace left behind after we said our farewells. The conversation at dinner being 'let's book him again' 'shall we have a party'! There's a simple booking process to bag yourself a top quality chef like Richard, with the La Belle Assiette website offering a £39 Temptation menu, perfect for any occasion; a £59 Prestige menu, a bit more fancy for the gourmets amongst you or the full works Signature menu, £89+ for those wanting to bring Michelin quality into their dining rooms. So choose your location, date and type of menu and the available chefs and their menus will pop up. Make your booking (modifications and dietary requirements can be accommodated) and pay online, it's that easy. The Chef will get in touch, ask about the kitchen facilities and work with you to make sure the meal goes smoothly. You can cancel up to 7 days before your event and make modifications up to 24hrs before. Time slots run from 11am to 10pm with even a breakfast menu offered by a few of the Chefs. Brunch anyone?
- Chef Richard ready to cook!
- The table set by me although Richard would have done this for us
- Richard tells us how he has created the starter
- Salmon gravadlax, golden beetroot, avocado and dill sauce vierge
- enjoying the starter
- My very own Kardashians
- Richard plates the main course
- Main course arrives, The Jury sits.
- Pork belly. pomme duchesse, purple carrot, Serrano ham, cognac jus
- Dessert being assembled by Richard
- Great dinner, happy faces!
- Richard is also has a coffee roasting business called Mr Beans and made us a complimentary pot
Dave is Head Chef at The Unruly Pig in Bromeswell. He takes full advantage of his abundant Suffolk surroundings by cooking local and seasonal produce with an Italian influence, much of it on his charcoal fired Inka grill. Here is his recipe for Sage and Thyme Stuffed Rabbit, Baked Polenta and Cauliflower. No grill required for this!
Do we like this idea? Are things moving in foodie-world or am I just distracted by that really fit waiter with no shirt on...?
They are looking for a chef at the White Horse in Stoke Ash near Eye.
I can hardly bear to say the c word but we wiill be looking for a Dish of the Day for that time of year when everyone gives each other presents, and for November and October too. If you have a nice recipe and look good in an apron why not appear on here? It's just an e mail away and you don't have to be a chef; let's have a home cook - from WEST Suffolk.
At suffolkfoodie we have·a wide range of hospitality qualifications, experience and skills. It includes working in the industry for many years, cooking, food writing and related hospitality business enterprises. We like good home-made food, are fussy about what we eat but·this doesn't mean fine dining -we are just as happy with a good stew or a burger from a street food stall.
Ruth Bolton is a passionate foodie and hospitality professional with over thirty five years experience in the catering, hospitality and service industries. Ruth is a Quality Assessor for Visit England having trained with them as a Hotel Inspector in 2007. She has also taught life skills and cookery at a Further Education level. Ruth has owned an award winning restaurant (The Chalice in Bury St Edmunds) and run her own outside event catering businesses. She occasionally pops up with her Little House of Cooking Cafe, complete with colourful caravan. She understands how difficult and expensive it can be to find help and advice when you need it. She keeps up with food trends and was ahead of her time in serving what is now known as Modern British food. She can provide advisory services to your business if you contact her here. Her relaxation pursuits include discovering more about wine and experimenting with her cocktail trolley - as Jimmy Buffet sang ... it's five o'clock somewhere; pour me another one!
Claire Frank has lived, eaten and cooked in the UK and sometimes goes to the Caribbean, but not in a 'living on a luxury yacht' kind of way. Claire has taught cookery to children in schools, to adults as an evening class, worked as a food taster for a research company, has written about food for local media and began to write the original suffolkfoodie blog long before street food was the trend it is now. Claire also has a life-threatening addiction to hot sauce and makes it in Barbuda.