Tasting the High Life: Hiring a Private Chef for a Special Occasion

By Sonia Mendes | January 01, 2015
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Serving sheep yogurt panna cotta with Michael's Dolce elderberry syrup and Harvey & Vern's gingerale cake.
Serving sheep yogurt panna cotta with Michael's Dolce elderberry syrup and Harvey & Vern's gingerale cake.

If you enjoy food, you’ve likely indulged in the fantasy of having your own private chef. We’ve all rolled our eyes when reading about celebrities with a kitchen pro at their beck and call, enviously thinking, “It must be nice!”

Well, let me tell you: It truly is. My husband, Ian, and I enjoyed an incredible, five-course meal prepared in our own home by a private chef hired through The Chef Alliance. The biggest surprise of the night? It’s more affordable than you might think.

As parents of two young children, one of the most prohibitive factors to dining out is the cost of babysitting. Hiring a sitter can easily add $40 or $50 to an evening, and we haven’t even paid to park the car yet, let alone ordered our pre-dinner cocktails.

Considering the average pricing for a private chef runs around $80 per person, it really doesn’t cost more than it would to have a high-end dinner in a restaurant, factoring in the extras such as childcare and parking (and don’t forget — purchasing alcohol really inflates your restaurant bill, whereas dining at home enables you to pay retail pricing for a bottle of wine).

Number-crunching aside, it’s quite amazing to have an experienced chef plan a meal to your specifications, carefully asking after any allergies, aversions and preferences. Since Ian and I love to try new foods, we granted him carte blanche to surprise us and he certainly didn’t disappoint.

The timing of our dinner began when we were ready. We first settled our kids downstairs with snacks and a movie. With the background music queued up and the candles lit, we sat down to enjoy an amuse bouche of kale and mushroom salad. Sourced from Champignons Le Coprin, we enjoyed a tasty, garlic-infused mixture of blue and pearl oyster, shiitake and cinnamon tops, with kale from the chef’s own garden.

Warmed to perfection, our appetizer was a velvety-smooth pumpkin soup, garnished with locally foraged black walnuts and Ottawa Valley honey. Each bowl was served up with leaves of melt-in-your-mouth fried sage, a delicious treat I’d never tried before.

The focal point of the meal was our incredible main course — a sumptuous duo of red deer rack and wild boar striploin. Sourced from Trillium Meadows, both dishes were new to us and thoroughly enjoyable with the delicate tenderness of the deer offset nicely by the small, denser slices of boar. The meats were beautifully plated alongside a rainbow of locally sourced, roasted vegetables including potato, garlic, chard, sunchokes, carrots, parsnips and kohlrabi.

Finally, we were treated to a dessert plate that paired sheep yogurt panna cotta with Harvey & Vern’s gingerale cake. Creamy and luxurious, the sheep yogurt — another first for me — was sourced from la Bergerie des Sables, and drizzled with Michael’s Dolce elderberry syrup. The cake was perfectly complemented with Spartan apples, slowly cooked with Gilead 66 Crimson Rye. My only regret? Feeling too full to completely finish my dessert.

Before our in-house service, I had wondered if having a private chef in our home would feel invasive. It turned out to be quite the opposite. Our chef was the perfect blend of discreet professionalism and attentive host, and we had full control over how our evening unfolded.

Best of all, there was no need to drive the sitter home at the end of the night, and our cozy bed was just steps away.

The Chef Alliance
TheChefAlliance.com, 1.877.402.3221


Now that she has experienced a private chef, Sonia Mendes has moved on to fantasizing about having a private hairdresser — to help solve her date-night hair woes.

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