I love Thanksgiving and every year it’s a favourite occasion to bring in all of my nearest and dearest, roast a turkey, indulge in some sweet potato topped with marshmallow (don’t hate it till you’ve tried it – trust me, the Americans really are onto something here) and don hideous sweaters in the annual Ugly Sweater competition.
But every year it’s always up to me to buy the ingredients, lay the table, cook the feast, clean it up, pour the wine… and be the delightful sparkling host that everyone expects to see and enjoy. I don’t mind this normally, and there is a certain appeal to rushing around the kitchen merrily tipsy with sprouts stuck to my head whilst shrieking Frank Sinatra tunes but when the opportunity to have a Michelin trained chef cook the dinner FOR us arose – I couldn’t say no.
And that’s precisely what La Belle Assiette offer. They are a private chef dining company that help people all over the UK rediscover the joy of entertaining at home – wine in abundance and good food aplenty – but no stress, drama, disasters, or washing up. Literally: the Michelin trained chef will arrive to your house, bring the food, prepare it, lay the table, clean up, and disappear surreptitiously whilst you enjoy the privilege of exquisite food from the comfort of your own home.
You simply visit the site, select your location, date and time, choose a menu and then book and pay online. There are over 700 menus available from Japanese to Chinese, to British and Spanish. You really can have anything.
We chose a thanksgiving menu that our Chef Christopher – a fantastic up and coming star with Michelin credentials – created bespoke for us as a real treat. He came up with excellent wine pairing options and we stocked up on the booze before his arrival. I loved this about the deal – it comes to around 39 pounds per person for a 3 – 4 course meal, and since you provide the wine yourself, it becomes a real bargain for exceptional quality food.
Christopher arrived in good time with all of the ingredients and utensils, and got to work cooking in the background whilst we enjoyed our champagne to start the evening and sang Thanksgiving carols as he cooked. To start, whilst we lazed on the sofa in our ugly sweaters, Christopher served us canapes to begin the evening. These were exceptional. He offered us Mini Grass Fed Beef Burgers with Homemade Brioche and Smoked Applewood alongside 4 Cheese Jalapeño Poppers (think: popcorn shrimp but little jalapenos stuffed with cheese). Both were exceptional – deliciously moreish and yet clean, leaving us wanting more and excited to see what he would bring out next.
Our dinner table had been immaculately laid by our fantastic Chef, and with some beautiful aroma’s emanating from the kitchen we awaited our first course. The Chef delivered two sumptuous looking platters to our table, Butter & Chipotle Chicken Wings with neatly cut Celery, and a plate of mouth-watering BBQ Pork Ribs. Accompanying the team was a bowl of Blue Cheese Sauce for dipping. The Chicken wings were absolutely delicious, cooked perfectly and great for dipping in the blue cheese sauce. Perhaps the star of the first course was the Ribs. WOW. Beautifully braised, with a delicious BBQ flavour permeating the meat, which fell clean off the bone. The plate was empty in minutes. To accompany this we had selected the fantastic Efeste Evergreen Riesling from Washington State in the US sourced by Jascots Wine Merchants. The Fresh High Acidity, and Citrus flavours complimented both Chicken and Pork beautifully, cutting through each and particularly lifting the Chipotle Spice in the Wings.
As we awaited the main course, we reflected on just how good an experience this was. Particularly being in our own home and getting an authentic dining experience.
The site of the Golden and perfectly roasted Turkey being rested on the side as the Chef prepared the bits to compliment it really was amazing. Chef delivered a sensational looking plate of food for each of us to our table. Delicious and most Turkey, so often a dry bird, but perfectly cooked here. Sweet Potato Mash, topped with Toasted Marshmallow. Honey Roast Carrots and Parsnips and Sprout tops with Bacon and Chestnuts. The main course was absolutely fantastic. I have never tried Yams, and the thought of having Marshmallow on a main course has always concerned me somewhat. My concerns, however, were proved unfounded. It was delicious! Everything on the plate working in harmony and beautifully cooked. We opted for a white and red with the main course. A beautiful oaked Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend from Bordeaux, a fantastic compliment to the meal, with the oak influence and spices combining beautifully with the honey roasted parsnips, sweet potato and Turkey. For the Red we opted for a fantastic Pinot Noir from Clarksburg in California, USA also by Jascots Wine Merchants. The jammy dark fruits were a fantastic compliment to the plate as a whole.
After an excellent main course, we were greeted by neatly cut slices of rich smelling dessert. This was my first ever taste of pumpkin pie and I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d always found American puddings to be at best basic and at worst appallingly sweet. The neatness of the presentation gave me hope that this could prove me wrong.
Rich golden filling encased in crisp pastry was married with burned marshmallow topping and delightfully crispy candied pecan. It looked a pretty plate but I was still expecting to be overcome by sweetness. With trepidation, I took my first bite. I couldn’t have been more surprised by the depth of flavour, the sweetness of the filling mellowed on the palate rather than overwhelming it. Our chef had managed to stay true to the taste of pumpkin but had added wintry spices that brought a smile to everyone’s faces. Indeed, it was the only time in the whole meal we had all been quiet. The marshmallow topping was a nice addition to the crunch of the pastry and the candied pecans were a delight. Full and happy we reclined, offering up our glasses for another tot of sherry.
After our meal, Chef Christopher quietly tidied up, washed the dishes and packed up before disappearing surreptitiously and leaving us to continue enjoying ourselves into the night. A fantastic thanksgiving that we are all thankful to La Belle Assiette for!
La Belle Assiette can be booked online.