Inviting friends around for dinner is a lovely thing to do, but so often it ends up being a stressful experience trying to balance the cooking; entertaining your guests; and clearing up afterwards. What if someone else would do all the hard work for you, allowing you to concentrate on your friends rather than the practicalities? This is what happened when La Belle Assiette arrived, in the shape of chef Jegan Bobb, to feed us for the evening.
Jegan arrived a little before my guests with some all the ingredients needed to create his dishes, so all the shopping is done for you. The chef had done a lot of the preparation in advance, but obviously some things need to be cooked or prepared just before eating. I was impressed by how organised Jegan was. We’d talked on the phone, ahead of the event, to decide on a menu and agree that he would use my tableware as well as pots and pans. Within a few minutes of arriving the kitchen was a hub of activity and dinner was soon on its way.
Most of us were having a starter of Pan Seared Scallops, Chard, Pickled Cucumber, Crushed Peas and Pancetta Crisp. But, a few of the party wanted to avoid shellfish, so Jegan provided a mushroom-based alternative dish for them. One of the advantages of having a private chef is having this degree of flexibility, without having to create different options yourself to cater to individual dietary requirements. I had the scallops as they are one of my favourite foods. They do have to be cooked correctly, as if they are overcooked they can be a bit rubbery. I was very pleased to find that these scallops had been cooked perfectly and they were complimented by the other elements of the dish. The peas and the pancetta worked well with the scallops and the pickled cucumber added another dimension, with the pancetta crisp providing a pleasantly salty garnish.
It was lovely not to have to clear the table between courses or dash into the kitchen to make sure that the main course was ready on time. Instead I was able to relax and enjoy the evening in the company of my friends. As each course was served Jegan came in and explained what we were eating.
The main course was a triumph. Everyone loved it. We had Confit Shoulder of Lamb, Beetroot and Potato Terrine, Cabbage Parcel, Butternut Squash Puree and Red Wine and Rosemary Jus. Incredibly tender and melt in your mouth soft, the lamb was the star of the dish. We all loved the beetroot and potato terrine too and the cabbage parcel added a fun creative touch.
Meanwhile in the kitchen Jegan was beavering away getting dessert ready to serve.
For dessert there was a Classic Panna Cotta, Mixed Berries Compote, Tear Drop Meringue and Buttered Shortbread Biscuits. The panna cotta had that distinctive wobble; the meringue added some sweetness and crunch; the berries were rich in flavour; and the shortbread biscuits added another texture. As we finished off our meals Jegan was busy clearing up and at the end of the evening I had a clean kitchen with everything washed up and put away. No need to dread the morning after clean up or spend time away from your guests sorting things out that evening. A stress free experience!
Disclosure: I had a chef come to my house and cook for myself and my five guests. My opinions are my own.