It seems that every celebrity has a private chef these days from Oprah, Chris Hemsworth to David Beckham. Great for them, but us mere (non-Thor) mortals often seek to experience fame and fortune through things like designer clothing, skincare, perfume or even adopting the latest celeb work out. So why is it that the private chef experience has been so elusive. Is that because it’s too expensive, seen as unobtainable, bit too flashy or perhaps we just don’t know where to start?
Well now we do! Gathar (as in Gatharings) is a new marketplace to connect those who love to eat with those who love to cook. It’s the brainchild of Cairns based Jodie Mlikota and foodies Nicky Jurd and Kaj Haffenden and has launched in Sydney!
The occasion for dinner is that our friend is celebrating a new job. Normally celebrating with a meal at our home would mean that this writer would be pouring over new recipes, shopping, prepping and spending the day cooking as opposed to applying the latest lippy shade…
Our Gather experience starts with choosing the menu – should we opt for a grazing tables, ‘Love & Lobster’, ‘Parisian date night’ or tapas? We opt for French Classics with a choice from two starters, mains & desserts. We share dietary requirements which include no coffee, chocolate or red meat (yes, we have weird friends!) Emails follow from confirmation, welcome and a reminder telling us that Chef Harry will call the day before. He does.
It’s Saturday and Chef Harry texts to say he’s en route for a 3.30pm arrival. We open the door expecting a rotund, middle aged chef – however youthful Harry is the opposite of that! He’s got his backpack, a big smile and is carrying two bags of supplies. Over the next few hours, we chat easily covering everything from his background to tips on how to make Yorkshire Puddings rise. He’s from Birmingham and has worked in Michelin star restaurants in Bath and Bristol but wanted a change, heading to Australia for his first ‘gig’ at Peter Gilmore’s Quay, then on to leading a restaurant group with over 40 chefs and most recently Restaurant Hubert. Our WhatsApp dinner group chat blows up as I share the news of who is cooking for us. Whaaaaattt???
By 6pm everyone arrives. Introductions made, we very easily set into an evening of banter and fun conversation.
First up is a reinvention of the daggy 80’s classic devilled eggs – A half boiled egg filled with a yolk, mayonnaise spice mix and piped back into its home and topped with caviar. Its pretty darn sexy in a way that puffed sleeves just won’t be again.
Our starter is a platter of three rounds of Brie which has been baked and topped with toasted almonds, thyme and drizzled with delicious honey. Oohs and arrhs come from the table as we cut into one and its creamy centre is scooped up with freshly toasted sourdough.
We crack open more wines with the joy that we have all raided our cellars, tapping into those special bottles we have saved for an occasion that never quite seems to arrive in our diary –they taste all the better for no mark up.
Next up is the main event. Coq Au Vin. Earlier we picked up tips watching Harry cook, scoring each mushroom may have seemed a bit ‘fancy’ but now we are gazing at a sight better than the Eifel Tower! Its a glorious dish of free range chicken braised in red wine with mushrooms, carrots and golden shallots. The Paris Mash stops hearts. It looks like a Rembrandt painting as pale glossy soft folds resemble gentle waves on a sea shore …(maybe we had one wine too many?) A side of sautéed green veggies ticks our health score for the day.
We finish with theatrics. The table goes quiet as Harry pulls out his blow torch and starts to caramelise the vanilla custards which he had baked in the oven a few hours earlier. Voila! Crème Brulee is served. Spoons are at the ready as we tap, tap, crack!! Delicious red berries add seasonal warmth.
By the time we have finished, the kitchen is clean, rubbish has been put in the outside bins and everything is packed away. The kitchen is so spotless it could be in a Fairy Liquid ad. We applause the master, raise our glasses and say goodbye to the person that made us all feel like a celebrites for the night.
For anyone who is often the ‘cook’ when they entertain, you’ll understand this feeling. As much as we enjoy cooking, we miss out on so much of experience of having friends and family over for dinner. Gathar created a unique feeling which comes with being cooked for, cared for in our own home. So it makes you wonder why isn’t this something we do every week when its costs the equivalent of a takeaway or even less than a meal at a restaurant with arguably better food and wine!
So let’s get with the next food revolution. Private chefs are not the domain of the rich and famous, its now as easy as booking an Uber, just tap, order, and enjoy the ride!