Clients of Lifestyle Elements are always coming up with new and fun ways to use our services and keep us busy and just last week, I completed a task for a client that was over a month in the making! This client (who will remain un-named for privacy!) was due to celebrate her 15th wedding anniversary and for a variety of reasons did not wish to celebrate in the traditional manner of going to a restaurant. Instead, she wanted to surprise her husband with a beautiful, three-course dinner for two, including all of their favourite foods, music and decorations, in their own living room! The night was a wonderful success and I wanted to share with you the process that we undertook to make it such a great night.
One Month Before The Event
About one month before the anniversary night, I travelled to our client’s house to see the “make-shift restaurant” and discuss her plans in more detail! We discussed menu items, colour themes, decoration ideas, surprise elements and any preferred suppliers or vendors. After a fun hour of scheming and planning, I came away ready to put a plan into place. Straight away, I read over the requested recipes, made any notes based on our conversation (e.g. steak doneness, dietary requirements) and booked in the big items from the hire companies to ensure everything would be available!
One Week Before The Event
Our client and I remained in conversation via email throughout the month as we came up with different ideas and finalised details. Keeping the plans in the back of my mind during this time, I even stumbled upon some second hand items while doing some personal shopping that were the perfect (and cheaper) addition to the décor for the night! Now, with one week to go, it was time to fine tune my planning and put a stricter time line into place. Re-reading recipes, I made a detailed shopping list for each shop that I would have to go to, mapped out my route for maximising my time, created a (long!) prep list for all of the food elements, sent the menu to the printers for a professional finish, confirmed the hire equipment with all companies and re-assured our client that everything was under control for a fantastic surprise dinner that weekend.
One Day Before The Event
The day before the dinner was predominately spent on the road. I visited the hire places to pick up table, chairs, linen & candle holders; shopped for decorations & fresh flowers; purchased all groceries and began my food prep for the next day.
Now that the event day was finally here, I was up bright and early to begin my food prep. As I would only be in the client’s kitchen for the duration of the meal itself, all of the food required for the dinner was pre-prepared in my own kitchen. To re-inforce the feeling of being in a restaurant, the couple were both going to be eating a different entrée, main and dessert – so I was prepping for 6 different dishes that day. Salad greens were washed, soup was cooked, potatoes were par-boiled and ready for roasting, cakes were baked and lemon curd was cooked and cooling in the fridge! As the evening approached, I loaded up the car with all of my hired items & my two Esky-bags filled with Tupperware containers of prepared food! I had my detailed list of items to tick off as they were put into the car to make sure NOTHING was accidentally left behind.
Arriving at our client’s house, the dinner was still a surprise for her husband and he was shut away in the study while we quickly and quietly set the restaurant! Everything came together just as we had envisaged it, with the 15 year crystal theme showing through in the décor. I donned my apron and excitedly led the couple into their restaurant for the evening. From here, I took off my Lifestyle Elements hat and instead had on my chef/waitress hat; seating the couple, welcoming them to their living room, lapping their napkins and pouring their wines before disappearing into the kitchen to prepare and assemble their first course.
After a small amuse bouche of pear, prosciutto and balsamic on toasted herb focaccia, entrée was served. For her, a classic American dish of Clam Stuffies, served piping hot in a ceramic clam shell; and for him, a rich and hearty red lentil and coconut soup with bacon wrapped sweet potato batons. For the main course, both enjoyed a steak (cooked to their liking!) served with thyme roasted potatoes, caramelised onions and mushrooms, steamed green beans and peas, a gourmet side salad and an assortment of mustards. Enjoying a break before dessert, it was time to present a gift that I had worked on during the week – chocolate letters to spell out a special anniversary message and made using their favourite dark chocolate. Finally, it was time for dessert. I had ordered cake toppers of the picture that had been on their wedding cake 15 years earlier and arranged these onto a rich, dark chocolate cake from our client’s favourite local café and onto an individual Victorian sponge with lemon curd for him.
As the couple retired to the couches with their glasses of wine, I packed up the temporary restaurant and gave one last wipe down of the kitchen bench. The dishes were done, the kitchen was packed up and back to normal, all leftover food was tucked into the fridge and I was able to disappear leaving them to their evening with no cleaning up to be done, the best part about dining at a restaurant right in their own home!
If you are interested in a private dinner at home, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information!