While many people would assume that having a private chef serve you in your own home would be nothing short of amazing, others might be intimidated by the thought of someone else in their kitchen.  Will they be poking through your cupboards, judging your cookware, and checking the cleanliness of your counter tops? If you are the type of person who feels the need to clean your house just a teensy bit before the cleaning service arrives, you may be queasy at just the thought of opening your kitchen door!

Recently I invited one of our local Chef’s to invade my home, take over my kitchen, and allow me to be a guest in my own dining room for one evening. Those who know me realize this was not an easy thing to do.  Firstly, I love cooking and entertaining on my own.  Secondly, while I’m not intimidated by having someone in my space, I do have a tendency to want to “help” anyone who goes near the fridge.  And finally, sitting for more than 10 minutes at a time and having someone serve me is known to occur only in restaurants. However, with an interesting dinner party on the horizon and a handful of private chefs at my disposal through Westcoast Gourmet Provisions, how could I not take advantage of the situation and allow myself to be a guinea pig of sorts?

Chef Alain Chabot is relatively new to the Comox Valley area on Vancouver Island, having spent the majority of his professional career working in the fine dining restaurants of Whistler, Fernie, Quebec City, and Calgary. With a background that combines a French heritage with Alberta farming roots, his cooking exemplifies the farm to fork movement that the Comox Valley represents.

Chef Alain arrived at my home about an hour prior to dinner service and proceeded to quietly set up the kitchen while our guests enjoyed pre-dinner cocktails. Not quite sure what to expect, I was thoroughly impressed by his professionalism and attention to detail. Coolers of food were swiftly loaded into my fridge, while plastic tubs filled with cooking utensils, saucepans, dinnerware, and cutlery all made their way into the kitchen. I anticipated that he would prefer to use his own knives and cookware, but as he carefully arranged his workspace, there wasn’t a detail missing – he seemed to have brought everything possible (aside from the kitchen sink of course) including his own garbage bags, soap, and dish cloths. Obviously not his first rodeo!

Aside from checking for guest allergies and preferences, I decided to let the Chef suggest a menu, with an agreed upon budget but no other limitations. This evening’s event was comprised of:

Pattison Farms Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Local Spot Prawns & Herb Croutons
Pan Roasted Halibut & Warm Pea Shoot Salad with Smoked Bacon Foam
Sous Vide Tannadice Farms Pork Loin with Local Root Vegetable Puree  and Apple Brown Butter

Dark Chocolate Semifreddo with Sablé Breton Cookies & Fresh Raspberries

My intention was to walk you through each of the four courses, to discuss how the flavours and textures were perfectly aligned, and how the presentation was impeccable – with attention to colour and balance on every plate. But alas, my descriptions could not do it justice. On top of which, I became somewhat distracted by our guests and the lively conversation (and the wine perhaps), such that the food photographer in me only managed a few snapshots.

Pan Roasted Halibut
I will say, however, that the experience is definitely what I refer to as a “do-over”.  Dirty dishes and garbage were whisked away, my kitchen was spotless, leftovers were neatly stored in my fridge, and we were left to enjoy the evening without worry about cleaning.
While not everyone has the opportunity for such an experience, it is much more attainable than one might think. With the bounty of fresh local ingredients, Vancouver Island attracts incredible cooking talent, both within the framework of our first class restaurants, and by way of customized events.