Hire a French Chef

Chef Franck Gautherot

Chef Franck Gautherot - Credit: Archant

No really. For less than the price of a swanky meal out you can now sit down with your family or friends and enjoy five-star Fine Dining in your own home. SUSAN CLARK reports

Piquillo peppers blinis with babaganoush

Piquillo peppers blinis with babaganoush - Credit: Archant

Pack your bags Mrs Padmore. Call a cab Mr Carson. Your services as the long-serving (and long suffering) cook and butler to Lord Grantham and his family in TV’s fictional Downton Abbey are no longer required.

This is because the market in personal chefs has increased to such an extent over recent years that it’s not just the Downton aristocracy who can afford Fine Dining at home – happily, even if it’s just a one-off treat - we all can.

And if you’re looking to try a new foodie experience this January, then look no further than French-born and trained chef Franck Gautherot who for the last three years has been running his private chef company, Franckly Delicious, from his mid-Devon North Tawton home.

“No mess, No Fuss, No work for you” is the promise on Franck’s business card.

So, as part of our Try Something New theme, we decided to put those promises – and his food – to the test.

Here’s how it works, what it costs, what you do, what Franck does and what you can expect fromthe experience of hiring your own private French chef for the evening.

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The Cost:

Franckly Delicious charges a flat rate of £140 for up to five diners, rising to £180 for up to 10 diners. This fee includes the cost of shopping for the food, the preparation (which he does in his own kitchen), the cooking and then the finishing off, plating up, serving, clearing and washing up which takes place in your kitchen. It does not include the cost of the food itself but Franck does not put a margin on that so you pay what he pays.

If you have a party of more than four people then you pay an additional £40 for a waiter/waitress for the evening and if your group is bigger than 10, you can call him to discuss rates. He will also charge reasonable mileage to travel to your home and again, you can agree this in advance when you book.

Franck, who became a private chef to escape the unsociable hours and stresses of Fine Dining kitchens, reckons you can eat the same kind of meal we had (see What We Ate) for around £30-£35 a head. You supply your own drinks.

The Menu:

Several weeks before the date of the dinner, Franck emailed a seasonal menu to the hostess (me) who then circulated it to her guests. We also asked for a vegetarian option and were not disappointed by a veggie menu that was equal to the meat and fish one in its thoughtfulness and eventual execution. There was so much choice the only difficulty was in deciding what to have so these really are menus that can cater for all tastes.

What You Do:

l Tidy your kitchen before the chef arrives

l Set the table for your guests

l Chill the drinks

l Show the chef where everything is and how the oven works

l Leave the kitchen

l Dress to impress

What Franck Does:

Everything else! Including the washing up! Franck, who worked with his partner, Peggy, for our dinner party left the kitchen tidier than he found it. It was as if the fairies had been…and the look of relief (at not having to wash up) on my husband’s face was a picture.

Because we were a small party of just four, Franck brought all his own dishes. He arrived with two neat storage boxes, checked with me which saucepans he could use on the induction hob and was soon cooking in that kitchen as if he had designed it himself.

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