Chef's Table - behind the closed door wine & dine

So you hired a Personal chef to prepare your dinner party. Now what?

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.

Chef's Table - behind the closed door wine & dine

Chef’s Table – behind the closed door wine and dine

If you’re in Florida – either full time or visiting, please pay attention!   LAST. MINUTE. STUFF.

Ever dream of escaping reality? If only for few hours?  To forget about the annoying boss, the omnipresent politics, family’s disputes, or anything else that bothers you at the moment?  To escape the stress, sit down with bunch of complete strangers, share gourmet food and wine, fascinating stories, exchanging ideas or experiences from different parts of the Earth, and not having a care in the world?

Me too!

Years back, when I used to sell wine for living, I earned a trip to Spain hosted by wineries whose wines we’re selling. Among the best in Spain. It was just 5 of us whose sales results earned us that privilege (me being the only woman). Not a tourist trip in any stretch of imagination, we didn’t do a lot of sightseeing.

Instead, we’re invited to wineries we already loved, often to their private dinner table and shared their wine and absolutely stunning food they prepared for us at their homes.  We toured vineyards, touched the soil the vine grew in, and saw firsthand how the wine, we already admired, was made. They treated us like celebrities.

Few winemakers invited us to some best restaurants in the area (like a Michelin star restaurant in La Mancha, a fantastic steak house in Madrid, or unforgettable del Asador Alameda in Rioja). The last one, owned by a chef couple, Esther and Tomas was a specially fun.

Tomas personally cooked a custom menu for us, then sat down with us to enjoy it and the entire evening a cigarette never left his lips. (OK, so he took it out for this picture). It literally hung off his lip until the end of dessert, when they brought cigars. Yes, I had one too, funny you should ask!

Yet some of the most beautiful memories that don’t fade away are those moments spent at the winemakers’ homes. Sitting around a long table, sharing local, sustainable and unforgettable courses, prepared by winemaker’s wife and few helpers. They knew which food complimented their wines the best. It was a long wine tasting complimented with multiple courses.

We tasted food some of us never had before, eager to try everything, lost in conversations about wine, food and life, despite the fact that most of us didn’t speak Spanish and the winemaker didn’t speak English. With the help of translators, we all had unforgettable evening, made new friends and didn’t feel like leaving even after several hours (I’m sure their politeness stopped them from kicking us out sooner).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think about this often. We formed life friendships at that table. We felt like a family with people we never met before. That’s what wine does to you (kidding).  I can’t go back to Spain anytime soon but I can re-create that feeling at my own table. I’m a chef, with serious addiction for delicious food and wine (I’m spoiled so it got to be good!!!).  At my home, we have the privilege of natural ambiance of tropical paradise we now live in (Florida) and multiple wine coolers filled with delicious supply.

All I need is bunch of complete strangers that have the same desire in common. Escaping the reality (at least for one evening) and getting lost in conversations with people you just met, from different background, heck even from different part of the world. Like those popular secret suppers behind the closed door in Buenos Aires, or in Asia (or >shhhhh< some I know off are in New York).

 

Would you like to be invited to the very first intimate Chef Vera’s Secret Home Dining Table in South Florida?

 

Because it’s in a private home, there are few rules you should know about if you want to apply for invitation:

  1. Are you adventurous and open to try different things? Please don’t apply if you’re dieting or only eat chicken. Use your judgment – if you’re complete vegan it’s probably not for you. If you worry about not liking something, rest assured that there will be array of alternatives offered. Don’t worry – nothing out of comfort zone (no liver, monkey’s brain or anybody’s testicles) OMG did she just say that aloud?
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  2. Are you easy to be around, and friendly to engage in conversation with other people? You’ll be exposed to diverse group of different backgrounds, age, sexes and experiences. Couples and/or singles. Small group – 8 people total.
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  3. Like in the old days, we ban politic or religious discussion. Our goal is to enjoy well-deserved fun evening, not make someone feel awkward, unwelcome or offended. You can get enough of it daily on FB !!
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    You don’t have to be a wine drinker, but it’s preferred. I want to compose it as a wine dinner but rest your kidneys; other alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages are available. Not that we discriminate abstainers or something….
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  4. You’ll receive lots of info ahead of time, but I’ll announce the detailed menu of the evening when you arrive.
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  5. We’ll share the food family style, just like at someone’s home, around one big table.
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  6. If you have allergies, special dietary requirements, we can address that during our introduction communication. I’ll do my best to accommodate special requests regarding your dietary needs but I’ll have limited ability if it affects the menu in major way. It would be nearly impossible to accommodate dietary requests that were not expressed ahead of time.
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  7. Everything I prepare will be organic where possible, and sustainable always.
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  8. Count on the evening taking longer than “usual dinner” at the restaurant, min. 3-4 hours.
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  9. Each dinner will start at 7:00 PM and we ask you to arrive half an hour earlier if possible, so you can get to know people who’ll dine alongside you.
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  10. For a security reasons we’ll want to get to know you better to consider your application so if that’s something you’re not comfortable with, please do not apply.
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  11. The hosting house is small in size and nothing fancy but full of heart, charisma, ambiance and character. I’ll do everything in my power to prepare an unforgettable wine & dine experience and fun company. As far as the total experience, that will depend on everyone sitting at the chef’s table.
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  12. Unlike at your mommy’s house, we’ll not ask you to help with the dishes.
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  13. You might want to consider Uber or nearby hotel.

If you want to be part of the very first Chef Vera’s Table – a behind the closed door wine dinner, you can also contact me directly at: dine@verashomekitchen.com. Please include subject line: I want to be notified about your next Chef’s Table!’

There are just 6 seats open at the intimate chef’s table and it’ll be gone fast! First dinner coming up this Friday!

When you send your inquiry, please let me know a little about you (your social media link), which day would you like to attend, and I’ll send you all the details about the evening, and some questions to answer so we can consider the invite. Sorry, if it sounds little bit like TSA but I’m sure you understand we’re inviting strangers to our home and want to make sure that the group of guest will be a good match to enjoy each other’s company. And, to make sure that we address any possible allergies or potential dietary issues ahead of time.

I am sooooo excited to make this happen!

Intrigued?