5th Dec, 2016

La Belle Assiette - home cooking never tasted this good

Stratford Editorial 2nd Jun, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

GOING to a good restaurant to enjoy food way beyond the kitchen capabilities of most us is a pleasure millions enjoy regularly.

Culinary shortcomings do not however stop many of us attempting something beyond our limited abilities in our own kitchen when hosting a dinner party. We attempt to emulate the professional without the years of dedication and experience. We cook with hope, and hope our guests appreciate whatever emerges from said kitchen.

A dinner party can all too often become something a lottery, but it need be no more. Why not just hand over your kitchen to a professional chef?

La Belle Assiette offer the services of a range of chefs and menus – classic to contemporary from around the world – starting at just under £40 a head. You choose, and the chef arrives with only the best ingredients and serves up a meal the likes of which most homes will never have seen. They even tidy up before leaving.

Mike Taylor is young chef on La Belle Assiette’s books who undoubtedly has a bright future.

The 30 year-old chef from Stratford can produce things in your kitchen you didn’t think your kitchen capable of.

From filling vending machines at Stratford Leisure Centre as a teenager to the Le Manoir kitchen of Raymond Blanc, and personal chef to violin virtuoso Vanessa Mae, via training at the nationally renown Stratford College – which can also count one Gordon Ramsay among its alumni – Mike has already packed a lot into a blossoming career.

He is an extremely likeable young man with an energy and enthusiasm which is infectious.

He happily takes time between courses (where he finds the time only he knows) to explain each dish and its creation.

It is immediately apparent he has a remarkable palette

The canapes marked the start of an extraordinary evening’s journey. A Salami Basket with Avocado, Tomato and Coriander Salsa – crisp like the best bacon you’ve ever tasted with zingy salsa from which every flavour emerges –  to a light as feather Broccoli Beignet with a sublime sweet chilli sauce and basil.

Bring on the Amuse Bouche. Celeriac & Lemon Veloute with Coconut Foam. On paper this sounds strange (at least it does to non chefs) and a little voice inside shouts no, but that little voice quickly shuts-up on tasting. It is served with a freshly made selection of bread rolls.

Mike, whose food leans to a Mediterranean style, influenced by strong Spanish family links, admits he’s an inventive chef. We quickly come to realise and appreciate the fact.

We are then presented with a pasta dish par excellence – Chestnut Mushroom Tortellini with Spinach and Beurre Noisette. The pasta hand rolled (no machine) of course!

Our host began to question whether Mike had a secret team of Umpa Lumpa-like sous chefs busy working for him in her kitchen

But one man it was as the main arrived – succulent Roasted Chicken Thigh with Apple and Ginger, Pomme Puree, a chicken mousse Boudin, and the lightest chicken skin Tuile. Packet the latter and Mike could have a pub favourite to accompany a beer.

And still the magic continued as out came a surprise course – Mike’s own Mojito jelly with mint which exploded in the mouth – think sorbet palette cleanser – ahead of a desert of Strawberry Textures – parfait, mousse, gel, crisp and sorbet.

A cheese board followed, with chef’s own handmade biscuits, and Petit Fours, including a white and dark chocolate ganache lollipop.

It finished a meal which will live long in the memory, and that is down to the dedication and natural born talent of Mike Taylor.

Visit www.labelleassiette.co.uk) to see how it all works, and www.labelleassiette.co.uk/mike-taylor to book Mike.