An evening with Chef Nina Groves, courtesy of La Belle Assiette.


This meal was provided for guests by Belle Assiette

A quick scour across the lifestyle magazines and foody websites will inevitably show you that private dining is a thing.  Its also a growing thing, with the trend for bringing in a private chef to cook for special meals being on the increase.  Companies like La Belle Assiette make it easy for diners and chefs to hook up, and we were lucky enough to be asked by Millie from LBA to host a private meal to be cooked by Chef Nina Groves as part of her validation for being a La Belle Assiette chef.

I live in a smallish flat.  But the kitchen is decidedly Parisian.  Had we wanted to even consider hosting an event like this, the first thing we would have had to consider is, well, the space.

Had it not been the fact that our flat has a distinctively ‘creative’ vibe to it, then I would have been jumping for joy at the fact that someone would be coming to cook for us in our house, but with the lack of storage space and my obsession with piling things on top of other things, we thought it best not to subject a skilled chef such as Chef Nina to the ordeal that might ensue trying to cook a la carte standard food in a teeny weeny kitchen.

Luckily I know people who have BIGGER kitchens so after some umming and arring, I asked my good friend Dr Steve Price if he could host it.  His house is bigger than ours and its a lot less chaotic.  But after a conversation with Vanessa (a friend of his), it was decided that we would host it at her wonderful house which even nicer than Steve’s.  It had an amazing kitchen but also a separate dining area that would be perfect for the event.

Nina Groves is a Dawlish based chef who has had a varied and exciting career cooking in resorts and on private yachts.  She has cooked for the rich and famous including one of the founders of Google.

We all signed up to LBA’s in-house event system with our email addresses and we were all invited officially. With the menu sorted, it was very much a case of just appearing on the night.

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The evening would start at 7:30pm with arrival at 7:00pm for an aperitif of Soft boiled Quail’s eggs with celery salt, game terrine with onion marmalade and fresh peas and sugar snap peas wrapped around Prawn tails.  They were a lovely start to the evening and, as you might think, divine; and so well presented on mirrored plates.

This evening I was under strict instructions not to worry about photos, as the pro photographer was there to cover this, but I still took a few sneaky snaps (can’t resist..).

For starter we were treated to Crab Tian, layers of fresh Brixham crab, concass tomato and avocado which was a light and refreshing combination that was, well light and refreshing…bloomin’ lovely. The Tomato and Avacado as a combination is quite familiar, but throw some fresh Brixham Crab in to the combination and it works so well.  These were immaculately presented and I felt sad that I had to actually eat it. I know this is generally the idea with food, but I had to admire it.

The main was a Fillet of Ruby Devon Beef with Mushroom Fondant, Celeriac and Potato Dauphinois and Asparagus.  The fillets had been sourced from GT Orsman of Shaldon which I happened to visit last year, given their care and expertise in our fillet we bought last year, this was going to be a good fillet!

As we tucked in, the table went quiet, our chatter and laughter stopped as we all took a step back to realise how delicious it was. Slow cooked and braised, it was one of the highlights of the meal, and not only was the texture perfect but the taste hit the spot dead on.

We had a little time to recover from the main course then we were presented with our dessert.

For dessert we were treated to Pineapple Tarte Tatin with Vanilla Ice-cream.  Full of flavours and varying textures and temperatures, it was a delightful way to round up an amazing evening.

Private dining might not be for everyone, but for that extra special evening with friends or even just as a couple, it is an experience that is hard to forget.  Chef Nina bought all of the ingredients, there was some negotiation about what sort of resources Nina would have before the date and as Vanessa mentioned, the meal itself nearly didn’t happen due to the oven going phutt two days before hand but it ran smoothly, like clockwork.

Would I do it again? Absolutely.  Chef Nina was discreet and generally lovely, there is little hassle in the organisation of such an event and so long as you can get over the fact there is a chef in your kitchen producing culinary magnificence then I would definitely recommend it.

Fore more information, head to their website.

Photos provided by La Belle Assiette

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