I’m so happy today! And after preparing an elegant four-course dinner for sixteen yesterday – my first real gig as a private chef – I’m balancing exhilaration with exhaustion! I was hired for fellow Columbia Alumni Paula and Neil’s second anniversary party almost two months ago and I had been racking my brain constantly to figure out the food and logistics. Today, I am extremely proud to share the menu and pictures after it all turned out very well. The many recipes are coming soon!
I will admit, when Paula first reached out I was nervous and hesitant. Would there be enough space in a New York City Kitchen? Could I cook for sixteen without an assistant? What would I cook?!? Thankfully, Paula and Neil are incredibly gracious hosts with a beautiful home and incredible friends. Instead of a formal plated dinner, they wanted a family-style meal to be enjoyed with lots of wine and laughter. They were also super flexible with the menu and let me take total control of the spread. The only challenge (I gave myself) was to accommodate Paula’s vegan diet – not too hard at the start of summer produce.
I knew there should be four courses and I always follow my menu formula to make sure all the elements are there, but that left me with far too many options of what to cook. You might have noticed an uptick in pins added to my ‘Entertain’ Pinterest board as I spent days trying to commit to even just the first course. Once I switched gears and decided to choose a theme the menu pulled together in minutes. Every dish for the party featured fruit, some sourced locally and a few more exotic; some recognizable and a few unexpected. Here’s the full menu:
Garlic-Lime Shrimp with Pico de Gallo and Baked Plantain Chips
Radish and Avocado Tartines
Ajo Blanco: Almond Gazpacho with White Grapes
Sriracha-Apricot Baked Chicken
with Colorful Cabbage and Apple Slaw
with Fresh Apricots, Cherries and Raspberries
There was a little meat and seafood there to excite the omnivores among us, but most dishes are my favorite brand of incidentally vegan choices. Since the fresh ingredients were largely raw, little unnecessary heat from the oven or stove was added to the apartment. Guests commented that the meal felt perfect for summer – cool to the tongue and light in the stomach.
Now that I’m past the nervous firsts, I am excited to do more work as a private chef. So call me for your catering needs! And if you want to recreate this menu, keep an eye out for recipes of each dish.