7 Benefits of Hiring a Personal Chef for Your Holiday Party

With holiday gatherings fast approaching, you may be considering whether or not to cater an intimate meal or spend your time in the kitchen cooking and preparing lavish courses of food to feed the family and friends with whom you’ve chosen to spend the holidays.

Before you start Googling recipes or writing out a shopping list, consider the following 7 benefits of hiring a personal chef for your holiday party. And then relax.

Holiday Meals Cook Up Memories

Looking back upon your childhood, you may recall those warm and fuzzy moments of being in the kitchen, surrounded by loved ones, while watching your family prepare and baste the holiday turkey. The kitchen was loud, with the clatter of pots and pans, and the aftermath was a mountain of dirty dishes that nobody wanted to clean up.

Usually, the adults would ration the duties and divide and conquer the task of after-holiday party clean-up. Although many of these memories evoke happiness, cooking and cleaning took quality time away from the company, leaving the person responsible for cooking with all the worries of making everything perfect.

Today, the convenience of hiring a personal chef for holiday parties allows the host an opportunity to take a revered backseat and enjoy unforgettable moments at the dining table, rather than in an apron or with their hands in a sinkful of soapy water.

If you want to take the time to enjoy the season, hiring a personal chef truly is not an indulgence. It makes perfect sense for all of the following reasons.

Is a Personal Chef Right for Your Holiday Party?

Take a look at all the reasons for hiring a personal chef. It may just be the best decision for your holiday gathering this year.


#1. Perfectly Prepared Courses


No more dry turkey or stuffing. You don’t have to worry about burning the dinner rolls. An expertly trained personal chef has mastered the art of creating the finest of dining experiences. If you want to impress your party guests, a culinary professional will ensure that every course is delightfully tasteful and cooked to perfection.


#2. Adaptive to Dietary Concerns


Whether your guests have food allergies, gluten-free requests, or stick to low-carb courses, a personal chef understands how to prepare a menu that satisfies all palates without sacrificing taste. Take the worry out of accommodating dietary restrictions and allow a professional to map out a holiday menu that carefully fills every belly with satisfaction.


#3. Less Stress


Not only is preparing and cleaning up after a holiday party stressful in itself, shopping for the ingredients means running to several different crowded stores, all while battling the holiday traffic. A personal chef provides the freshest of ingredients, and the only thing you’ll need to worry about is what to wear and where to seat your guests.


#4. Time-Saving


The holidays are our moment to relax and enjoy the company of loved ones. If you’re in charge of planning and cooking for your holiday event, you miss out on precious time that you could better spend doing other things, like trimming the tree or hanging seasonal lights.


#5. Create Memories


The holiday season often makes us feel like the more presents we buy or stockings we stuff, the more we make memories. But the truth is, some of the best memories are those intimate moments that feel special, simply because everything turns out perfect. There is comfort and ease in hiring a personal chef for any holiday event. Everything turns out perfectly, and your family and friends are worth it.


#6. Intimate and Safe At-Home Dining


The current pandemic has kept many of us home and limited our exposure to the public. Rather than go out and risk any possible repercussions, at-home catered events keep your family and friends feeling safe and adequately socially distanced.


#7. Increased Options


With a personal chef, you not only get to enjoy exquisitely prepared meals, but you also have more variety. A chef brings new ideas, flavors, and courses to the table to make a memorable impression on your guests. Rather than rely on recipes from days past, a professional will pamper you with a creative blend of flavors, seasonings, and preparations that are stunning as they are sumptuous. What better way to celebrate the holiday this year than trying something new?

Treat Yourself This Season

If you’re ready to step out of the kitchen and enjoy your dinner party mingling, contact us. We can accommodate dinner parties and dietary requests while helping you create a memorable holiday dinner that nobody will forget. Book your holiday party today!

Pair wine & food like an expert!

Not sure how to properly pair food with wine?

With holiday entertaining upon us, there’s no better time to talk about pairing wine with food. And the question we get from so many of our clients is, “Which wine goes with which food?”

Texture and flavor elements in foods and wines interact with each other, so finding the perfect match can be essential to properly highlighting flavors and notes from a carefully designed menu.

Years of personal experience pairing fine foods and wines, as well as close collaborations with the best sommeliers in town allow The Austin Artisan to bring you the best of both worlds. We build innovative menus and source the ideal wine partners to complement your chosen flavor profile and deliver the most well-rounded culinary experience possible. See how we do it!

Another great way to discover new wines and experience how they interact with food is to host an in-house wine tasting. Wine tastings are a casually classy way to gather small groups and intimately engage them in the world of wine. Our knowledge and selection of world-class wines can create a memorable sipping soirée for everyone, from novice to connoisseur. Ready to turn your living room into a tasting room?  Check out our wines.

 

Host a high-end dinner party!

Planning a dinner party soon? Don’t want to be the stressed-out host?  

You’ve probably thrown a few dinner parties before.  The scenario usually looks like this: you spend all day in the kitchen, stressing about the menu, food preparation, cleaning up, in addition to having to play the perfect host. Sure, you can hire a caterer to prepare a meal for your next dinner party, but…Have you thought about hiring a personal chef,  a creator of unique, luxury culinary experiences?

We all want to impress our dinner group, especially around the holidays. Imagine elevating your dining experience by preparing a meal that makes everyone feel special in some way, which is The Austin Artisan’s specialty!

Using food as a vessel for that special gathering, we ensure each dinner party is customized to your specific event and guest of honor. Whether you want to host a five-course meal or an elegant cocktail party, our passion for outstanding food, genuine hospitality, and culinary entertainment is the cornerstone of each event the we cater.

Our Artisans pride themselves on selecting only the best ingredients, and that means eating in season. Seasonal, local produce is better tasting, easier to source, and aligns with the natural harvest cycle. With fall upon us and the changing weather means a shift in the produce that is available. Together, we will design the perfect menu for your gathering using the freshest, local ingredients. When we are at your home, our chefs encourage your guests to come gather around the kitchen and watch us prepare each meal, ask us questions, and participate in a lively dialogue.

Michael and his Team will help you handle (almost) everything. Our Artisans are a professional team of servers, bartenders, chefs, and support staff. We can even help you source the right china, barware, glassware, and linens.

Give your guests the ultimate dining experience. Our Artisans can assure the most exclusive dinner reservation in town is at your own table. Contact us to schedule your premier private dining and personal chef experience for your upcoming gathering.

11 Countdown to Christmas Party Planning Steps

Throw a Memorable Celebration without Losing Your Christmas Spirit!

Entertaining guests this holiday season? Need tips to pull-off a stress-free gathering?

To help you make your holiday gatherings extra-special, the Austin Artisan is brimming with festive ideas to help you prepare a grand, celebratory meal. Whether throwing an elegant holiday get-together or intimate cocktail party, these countdown to party planning steps will help you enjoy your party–just as much as your guests.

Plan for these eleven think-ahead steps to help host a flawless and memorable gathering:

1. Plan the menu
Begin planning your holiday gathering by reviewing recipes and menu ideas. Once you’ve decided on the number of courses, the format, and the theme, you’re ready to plan the menu. Consider what’s in season, what you can source locally, and what you feel comfortable preparing. If cooking on your own, start your shopping early to find specialty items.

The Austin Artisan can cater a magical Christmas gathering and help you plan the perfect menu for your event!   Check out our blog for some recipe ideas.

2.Get organized

Plan your table settings, serving dishes, and other holiday decorations. Our Boutique Catering Service will help you handle (almost) everything. Our Artisans are a professional team of servers, bartenders, chefs, and support staff. We can even help you source the right china, barware, glassware, and linens.

3. Consider dietary restrictions
Try to mix up gluten free options as well as salads and other meatless dishes for vegetarians.

4.  Select your appetizers
Plan for a few mouth-watering starters that warm up the palette for what’s to come: a main course that leaves your guests wanting seconds.

5. Set up beverage station
Create a beverage station near the kitchen so it will be convenient for guests to replenish ice, pour wine, and gather glassware. When it comes to the perfect Christmas gathering, our clients enlist our boutique catering services to help pair the best wines with the variety of foods you are serving. You’re sure to learn something new and find your favorite wine and food combination.

6.  Make a timeline for party day
Decide when you’ll be feasting, then count backward to determine when to put the turkey, ham or roast in the oven and what else needs to be cooked beforehand so you can relax and enjoy your time when guests arrive.

7. Prepare before guests arrive
Make it easy on yourself and serve as many room temperature dishes as possible. The Austin Artisan has been catering festive Christmas dinner parties for several years and has developed a step-by-step process to create a super organized, hassle-free dinner party for our clients.

8. Make the most of space.
To keep guests from crowding your kitchen while you are doing last minute preparations, put appetizers in other rooms around your home and if weather permits, encourage guests to gather on the back patio before the main course.

9. Select music
A few days before your holiday gathering, make a play list of that will set the mood.

10. Indulge your guests with sweets
You can never have too many sweets. Consider simple items like store-bought cookies or pies, and offer one decadent homemade dessert. The Austin Artisan can help plan for the perfect mix from freshly sliced fruit, to an assortment of pies and pastries.

11. Debrief
After the party, note successes and shortfalls that will guide your next event.

Host the ultimate holiday party — and forget the stress when you enlist the Austin Artisans to cater your Christmas celebration.  Spread the joy this season with neighbors, friends and family, and treat them to the best Christmas and holiday party they’ve been to all year! Nothing brings people together like the holidays!

 

Take Your Turkey Brine To The Next Level

There are varying opinions on the subject of turkey brine. But on average, you’ll find that most culinarians are in favor of this technique—and that includes The Austin Artisans. From moistening the bird to adding diverse, deep flavor, it serves a multitude of purposes, making it a Thanksgiving must!

If you haven’t hosted a holiday dinner before, you might not know what exactly brine is or how it works. If you have, you might be ready to take this year’s meal to the next level. No matter where you are on the cooking continuum, our chef secrets will answer all of your pressing questions to help you create a 5-star turkey feast.

What is turkey brine?

Brine is a solution made with salt, water and sugar. The salt water keeps the bird moist and juicy. Plus, it’s common for people to overcook turkey, especially the breast. Brining is like insurance, protecting the bird from drying out. If you add a little sugar, it caramelizes the skin as it roasts, lending that perfect golden-brown color.

How do I make basic brine?

Add 1 cup of kosher salt and about ¼ cup of sugar to every gallon of water. Or, use a combination of water and stock to elevate the flavor profile. If your stock is already salted, decrease the amount that you add.

Then, bring all the ingredients to a gentle simmer to dissolve the water and salt. Let it cool completely.

Where do I store it?

Fully submerge the turkey in brine in a cooler with ice. Leave the cooler outside if it’s cold enough. Or, place the turkey and brine in a large pot and store it in the refrigerator. Do not leave it on the counter!

How can I kick it up?

Us chefs like to push boundaries, and Thanksgiving is no exception. I typically add whatever seasonings I have on hand and call it my “kitchen sink brine”. However, a few of my favorite seasonings include: star anise, cumin seeds, caraway seeds and dried citrus. Roast or toast the seeds first to draw out their oils and flavors. Then, add them to the brine before or after you simmer the liquid.

Cyber Monday Special

The Austin Artisans are offering an exclusive one-day only Cyber Monday Special on November 28. Visit our blog or Facebook page on 11/28 for the big reveal!

Hint: Our Personal Chef Services make the best (most practical) gift for your loved one—or yourself—this holiday season and into the New Year.

Chef Hacks for Hosting the Ultimate Thanksgiving Dinner

Do I brine my turkey? And what does that even mean? What’s the best way to cook my bird? And how will I get it all done in time?

Thanksgiving is almost here and, if you’re hosting, you might be feeling the pressure. There are many moving parts involved in getting your meal on the table—and making it impressive to boot. If you’re in the process of planning your feast, take a deep breath, because you came to the right place. The Austin Artisan team has put together a list of our best Chef Hacks to help you execute your holiday dinner like a pro!

4 Thanksgiving Tips, Tricks & Hacks

1. Break It Down

Many people cook a whole bird on Thanksgiving. But it’s a little known fact that turkey doesn’t always cook evenly. The breast usually cooks faster than the legs, so it’s susceptible to drying out. Therefore, we suggest cooking the individual parts of the turkey, so you can remove each piece accordingly.

2. Brine First

Before you cook your turkey pieces, brine them first. Brine is a solution made with salt, sugar and water (recipe coming next week). The salt water helps moisten the bird to yield tender meat. The sugar will caramelize the skin, creating that sought-after golden color. You can also season the brine to add lots of robust flavor.

3. Stuff Separately

If you’re cooking your turkey in parts, you might be wondering where you put the stuffing. However, stuffing prepared in the cavity of the bird can actually pose a health hazard. In order to get the stuffing to a safe temperature, you often have to overcook the turkey. Instead, make your stuffing separately and save yourself the time and hassle.

4. Prep In Advance

To avoid last-minute delays, get some prep work done in advance. The day or two before, you can: chop potatoes for your mash, steam green beans and prepare the cream sauce for your casserole (see our Checklist for more details). You’ll feel so much better on the big day if you can easily reheat sides rather than making everything from scratch at the same time.

Cyber Monday Special: Looking for the ultimate gift for a loved one—or yourself? Check our blog on Monday, November 28th for our Personal Chef Cyber Monday Special. Don’t just make resolutions; stick to them with seasonal, customized food for the whole family!

Preserve Summer with Housemade Dill Pickles

Just because summer is over, doesn’t mean it should become a distant memory. In The Austin Artisan kitchen, we preserve the season’s bounty, so we can enjoy it all year long. In fact, we’ve developed a “Pickling Program” to ensure all of our farmer’s market favorites will last throughout the colder months. One of our best recipes? Housemade Dill Pickles!

Pickles are perfect on sandwiches and burgers, but any type of pickled veggie can add elegance to ordinary meals and platters. We’re in the process of preserving cucumbers, Fresno peppers and jalapenos to upgrade our Holiday Catering Orders. Here’s how we do it…

Elevate Your Platters with Pickles:

  • Arrange them on cheeseboards. This gives an ordinary appetizer a whole new look.
  • Use them to create a beautiful ploughman’s lunch for overnight guests with cheese, cherry jam, sliced meat, hardboiled eggs and fresh bread.
  • Add to antipasto platters along with mozzarella balls, olives, artichokes and Italian meat.

The process is easier than you think. Get stared with our simple pickle recipe!

Housemade Dill Pickles

All It Takes

35-40 small to medium pickling cucumbers
4 fresh dill heads or 4 Tbsp. dried dill seed (not weed)
4 garlic cloves or more to taste
1 gallon cold water
1 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. mixed pickling spices
2/3 cups canning or kosher salt (Do NOT use iodized salt!)

Let’s Get Cooking

  1. Wash the cucumbers, but do not scrub them. Trim 1/8-inch from the blossom end of each cucumber and slice in half lengthwise or into quarters, depending on how large they are and how big you want them to be when they’re done.
  2. In a gallon jar (or large, wide-mouth, food-safe container) layer the dill heads or seed, garlic cloves and sliced cucumbers.
  3. In a separate pitcher or bowl, stir the remaining ingredients until the salt is dissolved.
  4. Pour the brine over the cucumbers, so they are fully submerged. If needed, place a plate, mug or other non-reactive heavy item on the cucumbers to weigh them down and keep them under the brine.
  5. Cover lightly with a lid, so it’s just perched on top. Or, secure a piece of cheesecloth over the jar with a rubber band to keep fruit flies away.
  6. Leave on the counter, away from direct sunlight, for 2-4* days or until the cucumbers taste like pickles throughout.
  7. Fix the lid onto your jar or container and chill. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months if you keep the pickles covered with brine.

*Chef’s Note: If at any point “fuzz” or “foam” develops on top of the brine, use a spoon to remove it. If there is “fuzz” attached to any of the cucumbers, discard the ones that are affected and be sure the others are fully submerged.

Place Your Holiday Catering Order Today! This year, The Austin Artisans are offering customizable Thanksgiving menus to take the stress out of cooking. Enjoy a feast, featuring all of your holiday favorites, delivered right to your door. We’re booking up fast, so contact us to place your order.