For a chef at home, Mondays are always busy. Most other days of the week I get a lie-in, but on Monday mornings, I cater for a branch of a multinational in central London, preparing brunch for their mid-morning break. A dozen or so directors and VPs gather round to discuss the strategy of their company and my job is to ensure they’re well fed and watered and that they have enough energy to get through an entire day of back-to-back meetings.
By eight o’clock in the morning…
I’m out of the house and, within a quarter of an hour, I make a series of quick pitstops at the bakery and the supermarket to pick up some fresh ingredients for the breakfast spread.
By nine o’clock…
I am at the offices in a small kitchen that is mainly used for coffee breaks by the staff. What I’m preparing this week is an Argentinian take on the continental breakfast, the managing director mentioned the team from Buenos Aires was flying in for an important meeting and advised I take extra care to make them feel at home, so I spent much of the weekend researching different recipes and testing a few of the beverages.
Yesterday, I managed to source some Yerba Mate tea leaves for a truly authentic morning beverage for our guests. I prepare a spread of lightly toasted breads with cream cheese and preserves and dulce de leche, a creamy Argentine caramel and arrange a few dozen croissants filled with finest quality ham and cheese. I prepared a batch of ginger and mint lemonade (an Argentinian favourite) in advance. Just as I’m plating up the grub, the usual crowd with their Latin American counterparts come out and dive straight into their breakfast.
A pleased nod from the managing director tells me I did well and before long, it’s back to the grind and I clean up the leftovers and crockery and cutlery and head home.
A few hours break…
I have a few hours before my evening client and I bought all the ingredients for a romantic Italian meal for two in advance, so this chef at home is left with a little time to actually spend at his home! I stop off at the specialist wine shop at the end of my street beforehand and ask for a couple of suggestions for my evening menu.
Come six thirty…
I’m in a kitchen slightly larger than the one this morning plating up some bruschetta starters while the spaghetti starts to cook. The doorbell rings signaling the arrival of my client’s guest. I welcome her in with a glass of the suggested Merlot and return to the stove. My diners have no problem getting through the bruschetta and my traditional take on spaghetti bolognese leaves just enough room for the tiramisu I prepared in advance. It goes down a treat with the second bottle (this time a sweet Shiraz).
It’s fast approaching nine o’clock in the evening
It’s been a long day, so I clear the dishes, wash up and bid a good evening to my client and his guest. For a chef at home, my Mondays are always busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Tomorrow is another adventure.