A little guide for private chefs...
It's been a while since I have properly posted since leaving my restaurant Marianne last year. I moved out of London and have been able to take some serious and much needed time out. Recently, I have been itching to get back into the kitchen properly. Cooking wise, I have been to Thailand, Piedmonte, Paris, Ibiza, Obsession Festival, Switzerland, I have also just returned from a month cooking in Ireland. This trip has prompted me to write this little guide as being a private chef is something that I built my career on all those years ago (late 90’s)
During this month it really became apparent how challenging it can be. How not only does your cooking need to be flawless (& in my case award winning restaurant quality!) - you need to be charming at all times. Also what do you cook? Nobody wants to eat rich-restaurant food everyday and they want to be inspired too. It’s tough cooking on your own when you are used to cooking in professional kitchens with a team around you. But if you get it right, and I believe I did this last month, it can be hugely enjoyable and you can learn loads. I hope these things can make a tough month (no days off!) really quite manageable.
1. Knives and a sharpening steel.
A knife should be an absolute pleasure to use. Sharpen as often as possible (the equivalent of every onion or so) I always take my wetstone with me now too. Please see my book kitchen knife skills for more information. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kitchen-Knife-Skills-Techniques-Filleting/dp/1845433343 #kitchenknifeskills
An amazing gadget. It allows you to spin even more plates in the kitchen than normal (and I can multi task) It will make beautiful creme anglaise, mayonnaise and hollandaise at the touch of a button. Don’t get me wrong, I adore making these classic sauces but on a private chef gig, you just don’t have time. A thermo also makes amazingly smooth purees. I can’t make my beloved souffle’s without one either! #madeinmythermomix #angeinthemix #thermomixuk Contact my mate Angela for more details… @angeinthemix
I use this so often and I scarily use it without watching what I’m doing which is a bit silly and sometimes my fingers get in the way. I do cut myself occasionally (see point 8 below :) This tool is brilliant for consistency. Currently, I love what it does to cucumbers, delicious cucumber ribbons that I lightly pickle. For celeriac remoulade insert the teeth and away you go. These Taiwanese ones are only £15 or so! #mandolene #becarefull
4. Other invaluable kit…#Tongues - amazing for handling hot food, these pictured here have been around the world with me twice! #Spatchelor or #maurice - brilliant for getting in the corners, #Microplanes - a joy to use for zesting and you don’t have to dig the zest out of these. #Squeezybottles - make plating up precise and elegant #Speedpeelers (because you ain’t got much time and these are fast!) Disposable #pipingbags #timers - I use this all the time, ensures smooth, precision cooking.
5. Recipes. I have a brimming black book but when your stamina is low, along with it goes my inspiration. I am not ashamed to say that Recipes from these Gourmet Travellers are simply delicious, inspiring, they are restaurant quality and just utterly yummy. Because they are Australian, they are super sexy with a very much healthy vibe, that only the Ozzies know how to do. I usually pick one up when I go to visit my sister over Christmas. Don’t miss out! #gourmettraveller @gourmettraveller
6. Menus - get organised and try and work ahead. If there is an aga, I am constantly slow cooking things over night as the bottom oven is just awesome. I find there is no better oven for meringues either. I try and work two meals ahead and get most of the days work done in the morning before breakfast because I am a morning person and I like to be really organised. Food shopping, this can really tire you out so I get as much as I can delivered. Use your network to find suppliers before you go… (thank you Jess and @kitchenexcile @kai_galway I also like to shop little and often (everyday) #aga #getorganised #forage
7. POLKA PANTS & Bragard. These polka pants are revolutionary. I didn’t take them off for a month. The nicest thing is is that they don’t dig in at the sides, when your body swells from standing all day. Bravo Maxine!!! @polkapants
Bragard: - They just always look awesome. They are cut beautifully and keep your chin up when you are exhausted. @bragarduk
8. Creams, serums, scar creams, supplements
It’s hard to stay feeling good when you get tired out. You can’t really catch up on sleep when you have weeks of split shifts. Early nights are gold dust so embrace them. I douse myself in all the serums, hand creams, scar creams I can lay my hands on. And bubble bath. I also try to take supplements like Kyani pictured here… they can help support when you are running on empty. @kyaniinc @kiehlsuki Make sure you eat well and don’t drink alcohol. But coffee? Bottomless espressos for me please. Try @theroastingshed :)
9. And lastly? If you have an amazing partner for massages after work to realign your spine etc then that is priceless and makes all the difference!