Hosting a supper in a private dining room is a special event. To treat your guests to a meal behind closed doors and away from the hustle and bustle of a busy restaurant is exclusivity at its best.
Many places in the city have now gone one step further in the bid to offer that little extra to guests. These are popping up under the title ‘chef’s table’.
A quick scan of chefs’ tables in the city finds around twenty. From sumptuous booths in the corner of a busy kitchen to small dining rooms with live television screenings of the kitchen below, it seems there is something for everyone.
As a chef, the initial idea of having guests spectating at a time when you are multitasking to the max is enough to make one consider leaping into the stockpot. What if you had a chef’s table and your guests don’t like the noise/smell?
Pictured above: Hibiscus
What if they distract my brigade during service? I don’t have time for niceness and chat when I am cooking – I had no wish to offend someone paying for a chef’s table and expecting me to converse with them all evening.
And what if the guests were rowdy? I had images of the Jurassic Park film where the two children were hiding behind stainless steel kitchen equipment trying to outwit the hungry raptors. A kitchen is a hot, steamy and noisy industrial environment: my staff must have as little distraction as possible to perform well and space is always limited.
However, the idea that I could communicate with guests, give them a real insight into how we work here, but also maintain the main focus of my kitchen was something I pondered on until I discovered our solution. I didn’t want a table in the restaurant kitchen, but I did want a chef’s table for my diners.
In January this year, I joined forces with Electrolux Grand Cuisine, who develop and install luxury kitchen equipment. I had identified the only space in the building where I could build my own, separate kitchen. This space could be used for dish development during the day but, most importantly, for my chef’s table.In under a fortnight, my team of builders and the Grand Cuisine fitters turned what had been my storage room at the back of the wine cellar into a high-tech, sophisticated and sexy kitchen. It can seat up to seven guests on polished wooden stools and everything from the canapés to the petit fours is prepared and cooked in front of them.
Pictured above: The chef’s table at Hibiscus
So far, the feedback from chef’s-table diners has been extremely positive. The food culture in the UK continues to change and diners are becoming more and more interested not only in the origin and seasonality of what they are eating, but also how we chefs prepare and cook it.
The opportunity to sit, watch and participate in a meal, while entertaining guests has begun a popular trend across London with many guests leaving not only with the satisfaction of having had a great meal experience, but also with a few tricks learnt while watching the meal prepared that can (hopefully) be re-enacted at home.
For more information, visit www.hibiscusrestaurant.co.uk