A culinary Serenade in your own home
Even though I enjoy cooking, I could get used to having a personal chef. Though it's something I've never really considered, meeting Eric Lassiter – or should I say, having Lassiter cook for me – last week got me thinking.
Lassiter and his partner Tre Stange run Serenade Personal Chefs, which, for a fee, will create a special gastronomic extravaganza at your home or event, for up to 20 people (though they're flexible, especially for a barbecue or cocktail party).
Lassiter and Strange will do most everything, from menu planning to shopping for ingredients, to food preparation, to serving the food, to providing wine service and a bartender, to clean up.
They'll cook breakfast, lunch or dinner and can also teach cooking classes for up to six people in your home.
Last week, Lassiter invited me over for a meal and while the food was fabulous, the whole experience was boosted by the chef's outgoing personality and great sense of humor. Lassiter understands the value of showmanship.
Lassiter started off by preparing a trio of finger foods, including a couple twists on old favorites.
His crostini appeared to be topped with hummus, parsley and halved grape tomatoes, but the spread was really a delicious and refreshing puree of eggplant and fennel, that shouted summer on a warm June evening.
His grilled jerk chicken skewers surrounded a bowl of dip that was a puree of bananas and guava, adding a sweet twist to a spicy kebab.
He also served a hearty mushroom strudel that had a rustic feel that complemented the other dishes.
Most fun was watching Lassiter prepare his scallops with a bacon and brandy reduction.
First, Lassiter chopped and sauteed Nueske's bacon – "what else," he asked with a smile – and draining off the fat, he added the scallops, giving them a spectacular sear. Next a sprinkle of brown sugar that quickly melted and caramelized in the pan before a brandy deglaze that Lassiter set aflame to put a flash of eye-popping excitement into the show.
For all his wit and charm, it is Lassiter's food that will grab you. Add the two together and Serenade would seem the obvious answer for the next dinner party you host to impress your boss.
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