The thought of hosting a dinner party is often marred by thoughts of slaving over the stove or washing up copious amounts of plates and dinnerware. That’s why we were more than happy to be approached by La Belle Assiette to see if we’d like to try their private dinner party service.
What Is La Belle Assiette?
As the name suggests, La Belle Assiette is a French company created with a simple purpose: to make entertaining at home truly enjoyable. They bring talented chefs into your kitchen so you can enjoy hosting a dinner party with friends and family without the stress of having to cook or to clean yourself. They have over 364 professional chefs in their online community and over a thousand different menus to chose from online. The theory behind the business is that they’ll do all the hard work so that you don’t have to…
Our Experience of La Belle Assiette
We were asked to take part in one of La Belle Assiette’s ‘validation dinners’; in which a new chef is invited to cook for you in order to prove their abilities and gain entry to their online chef community. Our chef for the evening was Dan Archer, from Up Beet Catering in Totnes. Dan has had 11 years experience in a variety of professional kitchens across the UK and has recently taken the plunge into freelance catering.
Prior to our dinner party, Dan made sure to contact me a number of times to iron out the details of the night. We discussed everything from dietary requirements to how we’d like our food presented. The three-course menu that he subsequently developed was exactly what I’d hoped for; incorporating Autumnal ingredients such as roasted venison loin, baked apples and wild mushrooms. I’m a big fan of these earthy flavours, so I was excited to try his dishes firsthand and have someone else cook them for me in the comfort of my own home!
Dan arrived pretty early on the day of the dinner party (around 2pm) and set to work immediately prepping for dinner. While he busied himself in preparation for the evening ahead, he chatted to us about his background in the industry and talked us through the ingredients that he’d brought along with him. It was strange to see my humble kitchen transformed into a space in which a professional chef could prepare dinner. Likewise, the smells coming from the kitchen all afternoon were wonderful…
At around 7pm the dinner party started in earnest, as our friends and the photographer arrived in short succession. Don’t worry, a standard meal booked through Belle Assiette doesn’t include a professional photographer. This aspect was purely for the purposes of the validation dinner and our blog. I’ll admit, it’s slightly off-putting trying to make conversation with a camera in your peripherals, but I was thankful not to be the one snapping the food for a change.Dan kindly set the table himself (another perk of the service) and made us a starter of Braised Pigs Cheeks with Jerusalem Artichoke Puree, Bulgar Wheat, Wild Mushrooms & Hazelnuts. This dish was absolutely delicious and I would love to get the recipe myself. I’d never have thought to marry those ingredients together, but they really did work. The presentation was rustic and laidback and I certainly got a family-dining vibe from the course.
Next, we enjoyed Roasted Venison Loin, Roasted Root Vegetables, Sauteed Chestnuts, Brussel Sprouts, Bacon and a Dark Chocolate Jus. Anyone who knows me will know that this reads as my ideal plate of food. I liked every element involved in the dish and the loin of venison Dan brought with him was impressive, to say the least. Once again, this dish was designed for sharing and we pretty much devoured every piece between us.
For dessert, we were served Rum & Cinnamon Baked Apples with Almonds, Raisins & Creme Anglaise. Another classic Autumnal dish that screamed home comforts. Again, this was very rustic in presentation (which I personally enjoy) and very seasonal.
My Overall Thoughts on La Belle Assiette
I love the philosophy behind La Belle Assiette. Having someone else take the pressure off your hands for an evening of hosting is a great idea; especially if you’re entertaining a larger crowd. I can’t fault Dan Archer’s enthusiasm. He really went out of his way to make sure that he arrived with lots of time prep and he also provided little touches such as fresh bread and olives. What’s more, Dan presented himself well and was unobtrusive and polite throughout the evening. My only minor gripe was that the floor was left in a bit of a state and this required quite a bit of mopping-up the following morning. I suppose that’s one of the downsides to having a chef who is used to working in a professional kitchen working in a little home kitchen! This wouldn’t put me off having another La Belle Assiette evening though, as I think it’s a truly fun and novel concept.
If you’ve been tempted to book your own private chef after reading our review, you can do so at labelleassiette.co.uk. Likewise, you can find Dan Archer at Up Beet Catering
Photography by Sarah Bradley Photography.