For some of us, having a special night with our significant other or a group of close friends might mean going out to a nice restaurant for dinner. However, sometimes, that is just not practical – there might be small children who cannot be left home alone or with a sitter, someone might be sick and can’t leave the house, or the group might simply want a relaxed environment where they can speak freely and linger longer than they may be able to in a regular restaurant setting. So can the answer be to bring the restaurant to you – or hire a chef for the night?
I recently heard from a friend with three young children (all under the age of six) who told me that she and her husband ended up doing this on a recent vacation. They were in Florida with some friends, many of whom also had young children. While they thought about hiring a sitter, they didn’t feel comfortable getting someone they didn’t know in a city that they were just visiting. Plus, there were many kids and they ranged in age – they weren’t confident that they could find a sitter who could potentially manage all of that and that they would feel comfortable with. Still, they wanted to have one ‘adult’ night, with real silverware and dishes, with nice food, wine and maybe even candles. So they ended up hiring a chef for a night – someone who had worked in several of the nicer restaurants in the area and who was now freelancing as a private/ personal chef.
Here’s the run-down of their experience.
What they liked about hiring a chef for the night:
- It was convenient: They just worked with the chef to set the menu, and then he did all the ingredients shopping, prep, cooking, cleaning and even the serving for the party of eight adults. The private chef cooked in the kitchen of their vacation rental and brought some of his own cooking tools.
- It allowed them to have the best of both worlds: They had set the dinner time later, so that the kids would be sleeping by the time dinner got started, but they had peace of mind knowing that they were all in the same house. When a kid woke up or needed a parent, it wasn’t a big deal to step away from the table for a couple of minutes.
- It was more affordable than they thought it would be: The cost of ingredients and the chef’s time ended up being pretty close to going to a nice restaurant on a per-person basis, even a little less. And when one of their friends produced a few bottles of nice wine, there wasn’t any corkage fee or the high restaurant markups. It also helped that they didn’t need to pay for a valet or parking.
After the chef finished serving dessert, he cleaned up the kitchen and left, leaving the group to continue to linger and enjoy their wine and chocolate cakes late into the evening. My friend said that she had never considered hiring a chef just for a night before, but she really found the evening enjoyable and relaxing.