Fine food, fine wine, fine waters from S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna and with an added spritz of interactive fun, home dining has been transformed over the last year into something to celebrate. Chefs Ryan Cole of Salsify, James Gaag of La Colombe and Matt Manning of Grub & Vine share their experiences in making the most of their next-level home dining deliveries
South Africa, May 2021 – Nobody would have dreamed of deliveries from South Africa’s top fine dining restaurants in pre-COVID days, but they have now become a favourite indulgence in many people’s lives. With sophisticated ingredients and flavours prepared by top fine dining chefs, paired with a choice of wines and mineral waters, all in the comfort of your own home, what is not to love!
While home deliveries reached their peak during the periods of lockdown when early curfews and liquor bans were in place, there are still some who are maintaining a cautious approach to going out in public even now that restaurants are open and operating normally again, and others who have just got hooked on the fun of it.
An immense amount of thought has gone into creating these home dining offerings, and all of them involve you as the diner in some of the preparation. Far from being a chore, this has become a memorable part of the experience. “We have tried hard to create something that gets you pretty close to enjoying a meal with us in the restaurant, but in the comfort of your own home,” says James Gaag, Executive Chef of La Colombe. Everything you need for the meal is in the box and comes with clear instructions for heating and plating. Similar to the La Colombe tasting menu, it includes seven courses with all the La Colombe flavour, adapted and simplified for the home. “Channel your inner chef and get creative,” says James. “Purees and sauces are all in easy-to-use squeeze bottles, so go wild.”
Ryan Cole, Executive Chef of Salsify says that modern diners have so much more exposure to television series such as Masterchef that they are more switched on and knowledgeable than they would have been 10 years ago. “It turns into a game. I send a sketch of how I would plate a dish and it’s like match that if you can. You’re having dinner cooked by someone else but you’re finishing it at home, which adds a sense of intrigue and luxury.” Regular couples will take turns plating the three courses and enjoy the challenge, he says, “there’s a bit of night out banter, which is cool.” His customers have reported that it is a great ice breaker for larger groups, getting everyone together around a shared task.
Chef Patron Matt Manning’s Virtual Dining offering grew from his pre-COVID popular interactive dinners where he cooked with guests who got involved with preparation of two of the dishes in a five course meal. The home dining boxes have a hands-on cooking element and come with a video of Matt cooking the dishes so you get the feel of cooking in the kitchen with him. “We get the mise en place ready and then everything is put into the biodegradable containers, so guests can see what to do for each dish. The video is quite upbeat, interactive, and fun,” he says. His regulars rose to the challenge in style during the last period of lockdown, “We did a little competition of the best table setting and photos, that people posted on social media” This created a sense of social community at a time where it was really appreciated.
Source your drinks ahead of time
Most of the restaurant deliveries are food only, so think ahead to make sure you have the right wines, mineral waters and beverages at home. When you book the Salsify at Home offering, Sommelier, Sam Ross, makes suggestions on styles of wines for each dish, such as a good chenin, or a full-bodied red blend. La Colombe are also happy to recommend specific wine pairings. In between liquor bans Chef Matt Manning was partnering with Radford Dale to offer a choice of two-bottle boxes to go with his menus. You can also stock up on S.Pellegrino sparkling and Acqua Panna still mineral waters or any of the beverages in the Italian Sparkling Drinks range, to complete your dine in experience.
Make it a special occasion
Customers should book ahead for home dining boxes as numbers per night are usually limited, so there is plenty of time to prepare your home for the occasion, whether it’s a date night in, a family celebration, or a special friends’ get together.
Clear the decks in the kitchen and put away bulky gadgets such as your KitchenAid for the night. You’ll want plenty of counter space to be able to spread out and plate your dishes in comfort, especially if you’ve gathered a few friends together and everyone wants to take part. “The most specialised equipment people would need at the moment is quality saucepans to warm the sauces up, and then a hand blender, or milk frother, that’s as technical as it needs to go“ says Ryan.
Chill your wines, mineral waters and beverages ahead of time.
Create a beautiful table setting before the delivery arrives, that way you are ready to focus on the fun stuff and then take your plated masterpieces to enjoy in a setting that lives up to the food. “Pull out the Christmas crockery,” says Ryan, “it needs to be an occasion!” Salsify provides a beautifully printed menu, to add that restaurant feel to the table.
If your home crockery is not Instagram-friendly or you just want that extra touch of sophistication, check out Matt’s Virtual Dining optional add-ons, where you can hire a complete set of designer crockery selected to suit each of the courses. You can also buy a chef’s apron or a set of chefs’ knives if you want to go all out for a special birthday or anniversary.
Where to order at home dining deliveries
Salsify at Home is one of four selected fine home dining offerings on the recently launched CloudChef website, in the good company of Stickman by Fyn and Tjing Tjing Momiji.
La Colombe’s Dine In offering can be ordered on their website through Dineplan.
Virtual Dining by Matt Manning will be launching his new Menu in June, but in the meantime, he is available for corporate, team building and private events of 6 or more people.
S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna mineral waters and Sanpellegrino Italian Sparkling Drinks are available for delivery along with a selection of Italian wines from www.italiandelionline.co.za
For more information on S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna mineral waters, please visit Fine Dining Lovers webpage.