TRES GOURMET

Top Chefs Who Cook Privately

Even in today’s shaky economy, the luxury market continues to boom. The world of “bespoke” continues to offer anything to anyone who can afford it. The quest for individual, extraordinary experiences lives on, indeed, it thrives! The latest bespoke concept is to employ a top London chef to cook dinner in your very own kitchen. Wining and dining one’s guests with food prepared by the big restaurateur is a culinary experience to trump all others. If you have the right credentials, i.e. cash, you can invite one of London’s top chefs into your home sweet home to prepare a meal in your very own kitchen, from a menu of your choice.

For example, Tom Aikens in doing house calls at www.tomaikens.co.uk. Tom’s currently in big demand. Not only does he run the show nightly at Tom Aikens, he’s also overseeing Tom’s Kitchen and the newly opened Tom’s Place down the road. But if he’s asked to cook privately, he’ll consider it, for a fee. We’re talking thousands “but definitely not hundreds of thousands”, says Aikens. His price is available on request and includes travel and accommodation, along with additional staff if required.

“I can do twenty people on my own. Any more than that and I’ll need to bring a chef with me” says Aikens, who has recently worked his culinary magic in private locations in Klosters and the Caribbean. If the job is closer to home, Aikens does a reckie first. “The one thing I’ve learnt is that no matter how immaculate or grand a property is, it always seems like the kitchen is the most neglected and ill-equipped room in the house!”

For this reason, Aikens likes to inspect a kitchen before suggesting possible menus. The man travels with his own set of knives. Everything else he hopes to find on site. Once he’s surveyed the space, he’ll design a bespoke menu to the client’s personal taste. “I’m open to what the host wants, but I always work with seasonal ingredients,” says Aikens. “So, the food completely depends upon the location.”

Also worth his weight in gold is the effusive Oliver Peyton (www.peytonevents.co.uk). This is a restaurateur who fully understands why some want to avoid eating out. “Clients can have any number of reasons for choosing you, but the chance of having a chef from a well known London restaurant is more appealing than employing the services of a catering chef with an unknown pedigree.”

Want something groovy? Atul Kochhar from Benares on Berkeley Square (www.benaresrestaurant.com) is on board for hush-hush groups. Ditto for the entrepreneurial Australian-born Skye Gyngell, head chef at Petersham Nurseries (www.petershamnurseries.com), an acclaimed cookery writer, renowned for her diverse menus and charming demeanour.

Renowned foodie Prue Leith favours Estelle and Vincent (www.estelleandvincent.com), a house-visiting duo who’ve had much experience in top restaurants and are now regulars on the private dining circuit. And they’re refreshingly affordable. “We really enjoy talking with the clients, and sharing our passion for cooking” she says. “It’s nice to have their direct feedback. We love the conviviality of an intimate dinner. Vincent can get very creative. In a restaurant you are sometimes bound with a menu that you have to stick to for a couple of weeks.”

If you can’t bag a big name, however, don’t despair. In the last few months, several well-respected catering companies have teamed up with top chefs to design specific menus for all to enjoy. Order ‘Tom Aikens (yes, him again) for The Admirable Crichton’, and you’ll get a team of Admirable Crichton chefs cooking dishes designed by Aikens himself. Expect sea bass with confit lemon, summer herbs, mint oil and a lemongrass foam, or choose rack of English lamb with peas and thyme-roasted baby artichokes. And these can all be cooked for up to five hundred guests.

Fancy getting Gordon Ramsay in for your next soiree? He ‘doesn’t do private,’ unless it’s for a charity or the Beckhams. But you can book Absolute Taste (www.absolutetaste.com),and they’ll present you with a selection of courses designed by Ramsay himself. “Absolute Taste is the closest I have ever had to a restaurant experience” says Ramsay. “Their execution and flair is second to none.” Knowing what a control freak the guy is, one senses Absolute Taste must be good. (For the record, they’ve cooked for David and Victoria, a cluster of British royals and some other to top footballers, should that sway you.) Then there’s Jamie Oliver’s team at Fifteen (www.fifteen.net), who’ll cook Jamie’s personal creations in your own home. Now that’ll really give your guests something to talk about.

— Mrs M

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  • Chefs