Most people don’t know what to expect and how they should prepare the kitchen. Unfortunately, some don’t want to lose their cool so they don’t ask either. When I first started my Personal chef business and came to prepare my first dinner parties at my client’s homes, I quickly understood that what seems logical to me, may not even cross some people’s mind. Especially, when the person I planned the party with, doesn’t cook him or herself.
The whole reason to hire the personal chef is to enjoy a stress-free evening. And that’s my goal as well. Or, to impress your mother in law, whatever works. That means that I’ll also need certain help from you in order to prepare an unforgettable meal for you and your friends or family.
I put together the following list of things that may seem obvious but … let’s just say that I learned my lesson over the years.
We booked the date, already discussed the dietary needs, personal preferences, agreed on an exciting menu and the day of the party is approaching. This is what happens on the day of your party:
» I’ll shop for the freshest ingredients that I need to prepare all the dishes for you
» I’ll bring everything to your house on the day of your party, and start cooking
» I’ll plate and present the dishes as we previously agreed
» I’ll serve at the table or prepare a buffet based on our agreement
» I’ll pack possible leftovers to your tape-ware and stock it in the fridge
» I’ll clean up the kitchen, pack my stuff and leave you to enjoy the rest of the party
Let’s make your dinner party a success and joy for everybody:
Show me around
When I come to prepare your party or special dinner, most likely I’m coming to your house for the first time. I’ll appreciate if you can spend few minutes upon my arrival to show me around the kitchen, where do you plan to present appetizers and where the main course will be served.
Make a virtual inventory
Do you have enough plates, silverware, and glasses for each of the guests? Don’t forget that we’ll serve multiple courses and we might not have time to wash the plates in between. Unless you have plenty of your grandma’s beautiful china pieces you want to show off – you might want to consider renting plates and silverware, or for less formal setting, even getting some nice looking disposable dishes. Let me know if I can help.
Give me a space
I’ll need as much counter space available, as possible. I’ll bring a lot of stuff with me, plus I’ll need a space to start plating the dishes before we bring them to the table. Please, remove all gadgets that aren’t necessary for the evening, from the kitchen counter.
What are we serving it on?
Not everybody has serving platters or bowls that are suitable for a larger party. I can use your serving platters and trays if you have them. If not, I’ll bring my own. Just let me know ahead of time.
Keep the food cool
I’ll need some space in the refrigerator to keep dishes cold before cooking or serving them, and then for leftovers. If you have an additional fridge in the garage, please use it for emptying some stuff from the kitchen fridge. It’s much easier for me to use the kitchen fridge than running from kitchen to garage fridge in the middle of cooking multiple dishes for the party.
Sorry, the kitchen is now mine!
From the moment I “move in” with my stuff, the kitchen will be mainly off-limits for anybody else. You may understand it but trust me, there is always Aunt Annie who “just sneaks in to reheat a dinner in the microwave for her picky child” 🙂 or other guests coming with food and trying to stick it in the fridge you just emptied for me. It may happen at the worse possible time when I need to take out hot pots from the oven or in the middle of plating. Of course, we’ll try to accommodate, but it’s better you gently direct your guests to stay out of the kitchen. Small children especially! They don’t understand the danger.
Set up your bar for a success
Arrange things you’re going to need ahead of time so you don’t need the kitchen yourself – it helps to set up drink station away from the kitchen, set up the flowers for the table, prepare wine glasses, drinking glasses, napkins, any other glasses you may need, wine bottle openers, beer openers ahead of time, scissors, slices of limes or lemons, and have it all ready on the bar. Keep an extra roll of paper towel handy. A bag of ice in the cooler is a plus.
Dogs, parrots or monkeys are out of jungle
Although I’m a big dog’s lover, it’s not wise and safe to have pets running around when a professional preparation is going on in the kitchen. I once had a situation when hostess’s Chihuahua jumped on the couch and started helping herself to an array of Filet Mignon appetizers on the side table. Before we noticed, half of our work was ruined and wasted. Chihuahua was so pissed we found out, that she came around and peed in the middle of the kitchen right when we served the dinner. OK, maybe Chihuahua isn’t my most favorite kind of the dog after all.
Designate a space for gifts and “stuff”
Your guests – I might need your help there. We all love to gather around the kitchen and chat about food, but it’s not such a good idea when a chef is trying to prepare several dishes at the same time, and need a space and concentration. Kindly point your guests where they can leave gifts, purses, bottles they brought, jackets, keys, cell phones and other items they love to place right on the kitchen counter. I need that counter for serving the food or for my prep. If you devote a place where they can leave their stuff, it helps big time!
The practical matters
Please, have the dishwasher and garbage empty so we can use it. Show me where an extra garbage bags are so I don’t have to bother you with questions during the party. Usually, we can find “all the usual suspects” in the kitchen somewhere but it saves time.
I want you to spend a beautiful, relaxed evening. Let’s put your legs up without any worries, fill your evening with laughter, good time – and, of course, a delicious, Instagram-ready food!
I hope this helps to make you feel more comfortable as well. There is never shame in asking questions – let’s discuss everything twice rather than having to improvise because we didn’t think of something important.