Case study: top chef ‘cooks at home’

Alex was chatting with his friend Stéphane, who is a chef with a boutique restaurant in Madrid. They decided to organize a private dinner. This is their story.

“Getting an opportunity to get closer to the people I cook for outside of the restaurant and listen to their feedback was a an eye-opener, a really positive experience.” - Stéphane

“We wanted to make something special, for people to enjoy fantastic food and meet other food fans!” - Alex

The chef demonstrated some of the food preparation to the guests before they sat down for a unique dinner in an intimate setting in a private loft apartment to taste the results. The guests got a lot closer to their food and the chef to them, they all had a great time meeting new people and an unusual, unique experience.

Working as a team

Stéphane runs a restaurant, which keeps him busy enough to not have time to organize events. Alex has a space and is great at putting together a concept to get people excited enough to come and enjoy. A match made in heaven.

What menu

Stephane Shoji came up with a brilliant menu:

Hors d’oeuvres

  • Tapenade with Cantabrian anchovies
  • Goat’s cheese in filo pastry with sundried tomato pesto

Starter

  • Tuna tartare with ginger sweet & sour sauce

Main course

  • Maigret de canard with Reform sauce and gratin dauphinois

Dessert

  • Strawberry tiramisu with caipiroska

Drinks

  • Red wine “L’Artisan”
  • Water

How was it promoted?

The original plan was 12 guests. Stéphane promoted it to his customers and Alex pitched his friends. They knew 3 or 4 different groups of friends – all got an email invitation. The email was sent 2 weeks before the event and very quickly the 12 seats were fully booked. Amazing. They decided to enlarge the covers and ended up with 23 people.

On the day

As a professional chef, Stéphane was in charge of the food. Due to the complexity of the menu, he did the preparation and some pre-cooking in his restaurant kitchen. He and an assistant then completed the meal live in front of the guests.

Alex turned into maître d’hôtel and garçon for the evening. “I was making sure everyone had drinks and helped serve the food. It was a lot of fun, talking to people, having such a simple experience, but long forgotten in today’s wired world! Quite authentic and the guests got a lot closer to their food and each other.”

Stéphane and Alex were delighted to get really positive feedback from the guests. Then surprised when the dinner was shared and commented on all over Facebook the next day. It was a really positive experience for everyone involved.

The bottom line

This dinner was a bit of an experiment. Alex and Stéphane both did this in their ‘free time’ as they thought it would be fun and an interesting experience. They both decided to split any profits equally.

Alex put down 100 euros for a big table, table cloth and other stuff needed for the event, but he has already reused this on further events. Other things, like extra chairs, were borrowed for the night. Stéphane brought plates from the restaurant.

The cost for ingredients and drinks ended up at 15 euros per head. Each guest contributed 35 euros, which meant a profit of 20 euros per head (this obviously excludes work on food preparation and time organising the dinner).

They did it for fun, but ended up around 460 euros out of the evening. More than double of what was originally planned!