La Belle Assiette, private chef experience
When you hear the words “private chef” or “private dining”, you’ll probably have a certain picture in your head of the type of person or home that might normally accommodate one. I certainly wouldn’t have associated myself or my fairly unassuming kitchen with such an occasion, but then La Belle Assiette got in touch and asked me to host and review a validation dinner for myself and five guests!*
La Belle Assiette is an international platform that connects diners with nearby professional private chefs and their curated menus. The chef arrives at your home with all the ingredients they need, creates a full dining experience, preparing and serving dishes based on the menu of your choice, and then leaves your kitchen as if they were never there.
My chef for the evening was to be Simone Giunta, a local chef originally hailing from Tuscany, Italy and now working at Brighton’s very own The Salt Room. With Italian roots and experience living and working in Spain, Simone favours classic European dishes and flavours that can be shared amongst family and friends.
Ahead of the evening, Simone called me to arrange the menu, check for any dietary requirements and let me know when he’d be arriving to start preparation. La Belle Assiette posted printed menus to my door and took care of formally inviting my guests online.
From Spain with Love
Simone and partner Zaida arrived at my house about an hour before my guests were due to arrive and quickly familiarised themselves with the kitchen surroundings. A short while after, a photographer that La Belle Assiette had organised for the evening also arrived, set up within the kitchen and started capturing the two at work – a very surreal experience for my little kitchen!
My guests arrived shortly before 7pm and we sat in my living room with a couple of bottles of red whilst we waited to be called into my kitchen. What greeted us what an absolute feast for the eyes (and stomachs)!
The amuse-bouche and appetisers were served together for a tapas style start to the meal, comprising:
- Anchovy crostini with grated tomato and chives
- Tortilla de patata con aïoli (Spanish potato omelette with aïoli)
- Berenjenas fritas con miel de caña (fried Aubergine with cane honey)
- Prawns with padron peppers
Each dish was presented thoughtfully, with a couple prepared separately for one of my friends who can’t have onion or garlic, and everything delicious. My favourites were the tortilla, which had a buttery, melting texture, and the crostini, which was a lovely contrast of salty, tangy and sweet.
Whilst we tucked in to the small plates, Simone set about preparing the main of a classic seafood paella.
The paella centrepiece was presented before being dished out and served – again, Simone was conscientious in preparing a portion that my friend could comfortably enjoy.
We ate almost silently whilst enjoying the complex textures and flavours of the kind of dish you’d expect to be served in Valencia; the soft, almost creaminess of the paella rice in the middle with that unmistakable crispiness that comes from the bottom, gorgeous hints of saffron, juicy prawns and delicate mussels.
Pretty full by this point, and feeling pleasantly sleepy from the red wine, we needed to make room for the final part of the feast.
Spanish flan with a dark chocolate shard, berries and a blackberry gel came first, followed by petit fours of sweet macaron-style treats. I really liked the accompaniment of berries to cut through the sweetness of the flan, rather than being drenched in syrup, so the two paired well. The little macarons were sweet, fruity and melted in the mouth, making a nice touch to end the meal.
The six of us were totally blown away by the food, presentation and service that Simone and Zaida provided. I wasn’t sure how it would feel having two people cooking, serving and cleaning in my kitchen for the evening without being able to help or do anything, but it was quick to get used to, and both were extremely professional throughout.
I also loved the relaxed nature of the Spanish menu, which was the perfect style for my friends and I – private dining often creates a certain image in your mind, and this was definitely far from what I might have previously imagined (but in a good way!).
We all agreed that for such a generous amount of lovingly thought-out food, with quality ingredients and cooked and presented in your own home, it works out at a really reasonable value per person (approx. £45 per person). Of course, it’s not your everyday occasion to have a full blown three-course (five counting the extras) feast, but when you tot up the costs of this much food with the five or six bottles of wine we had too, it’s brilliant!
I’m pleased to say that Simone has been validated on La Belle Assiette and is available for private dining experiences in Brighton, Hove and surrounding areas! So you can check out his menus here. But if you fancy seeing what else is on offer near you, you can search on La Belle Assiette.
I was very fortunate to have this experience gifted for me in exchange for my honest reviews and feedback, but I can promise you that all of my reviews are 100% my own, honest opinion 😀