Dining in: hiring a chef for your cottage
In or out?
Kingham has become the centre of a very foodie area. Pubs and restaurants for miles are very well known, and nowhere is more food conscious than the organic farm shop at Daylesford with its cookery school courses on fermentation and sourdough.
However, sometimes you don’t want to go out…sometimes you want to have a special family meal at home but without all the faff of actually doing the hard work yourself, especially if there are children in your party that you don’t want to abandon. This is where it makes a lot of sense to hire a chef to come to your cottage. No hassle, no stress, no corkage!
There are a couple of options if you go down this route. Food can be prepared off site and dropped off the day of the party ready for you to serve yourself. This works really well for relaxed lunch parties or for a supper the night everyone arrives late and hungry but you still want to start the weekend with a bang.
For a special dinner though, nothing beats a 3 course meal cooked on site and served at the table. Everyone can waft down in their evening clothes, smelling gorgeous to be greeted by fabulous canapés and a glass of fizz whilst a beautifully laid table sets the tone for drinks and the smells of dinner blow around you. 3 courses are served and cleared, while you concentrate on catching up with family or friends and enjoying the delicious food while someone else worries about timings, temperatures and washing up.
The thing to remember when this is being priced up is that this is more than a half-way house between you doing it yourself (they quoted how much?!) and going out (it will cost what?!). You are paying not just for the food but for the labour of someone else doing the hours and hours of prep, cooking and clearing. It’s easy for some of us to think ‘I could do that myself’ or certainly ‘I could do that cheaper myself’ but then do you want to spend all afternoon of your precious family weekend slaving in the kitchen? Or the days prior to the weekend cooking and freezing? It works for some but if not you, don’t be afraid to see this as investing in your time together as well as giving you a break from the kitchen!
Upon booking, we send out an information sheet of Additional Services on which there are a few local catering options. The list is just a few suggestions, a mix of cooks who will deliver a tailored menu, G&G Italian foods who will drop off platters of pre-prepared food and Dine Indulge, through whose website you can book a chef to cook a pre-set menu.
I recently chatted to Jane Cousins from our recommended list. She gave examples of her work that included a lunch party of mixed salads, lasagnes, breads and choice of puddings to be dropped off at £22 per head. She could also do a 3 course dinner for 6, cooked and served on site for £35 per head.
The joy of this option is that you have agreed the menu, tailored to your exact requirements and it’s all cooked and served in the comfort of your home but at a fraction of the cost of going out. (Note the saving on babysitters here since you haven’t left the premises!)
In comparison the local Kingham Plough is an excellent venue and will cost at least £40 per head for 3 courses. The other big win is wine. Buying wine in a pub or restaurant is generally twice or three times the price of buying it in the shop. Need I say more? Majestic in Stow on the Wold is your friend here!
I recently chatted to a guest as they were leaving who had thoroughly enjoyed their weekend and the breakthrough for them had been COOK meals that they had collected in Witney. These are now available in the local Chipping Norton Co-op as well as Moreton in Marsh Budgens, but of course if you spend £50 or more then there is free delivery.
The world is your oyster. Get shucking!