Entertaining friends or family in your own home is an appealing concept at first – the idea of oneself as the magnanimous host, holding forth at the head of a table overflowing with meat and drink like something out of a Dickensian Fortnum and Mason catalogue advert. The reality is often quite different. Hosting a meal is inevitably a stressful, labour-intensive process that can claim one’s time, kitchen utensils and long-term friendships. It needn’t be this way, however – there is another option.
Going by the accurate-yet-unassuming title of Cook And Waiter, Paul Squire and his team provide an all-encompassing culinary service, bringing food, drink, silverware, and even tables and chairs to any venue that summons them. They are adaptable, unflappable and extraordinarily efficient - book them, and they will come. Early.
The service, make no mistake, is exceptional. With extraordinary tact and stealth, Squire and his colleagues transformed our evening’s dining area from run-of-the-mill living quarters into a five star dining room.
The meal began with canapés - frighteningly moreish sage and anchovy sandwiches and crisp, crumbling Parmesan wafers, served hot from the oven - accompanied by very good Prosecco. When seated, the food came in ‘waves’ – fresh asparagus served with sauce gribiche, mozzarella with oven roasted vine tomatoes and basil oil, and enormous poached prawns with lemon olive oil. And that was just the first wave.
The second featured a salad of peas, courgette, lemon, mint and ricotta alongside immaculately cooked chicken, and – just before bursting point set in – the third wave arrived in the form of a tender fillet of beef, served with radicchio salad and red wine vinaigrette.
It was an almighty feast, far beyond the capabilities of all but the most audacious amateur chefs, and served without any of the stresses that inevitably arise when cooking for oneself. The desserts, which arrived following a tactful rest period - were also superb; extraordinarily rich homemade vanilla ice cream and a ginger parkin, served piping hot, which may just have been the finest thing on the menu.
The evening was delivered with class and panache, and Squire’s team packed up and moved on as seamlessly as they had arrived. Both the guests and the host were thoroughly entertained.
+44 208 758 9165; www.cookandwaiter.com
Words By Max Olesker