The Chef’s Table

This weekend we had a fabulous dinner at the chef’s table.  We got to see all the chef action close up right in the kitchen.  We even got to pitch in ad help prepare, chop, stir, and even cook.  This was no ordinary chef’s table either, well actually that is exactly what it was.  We went to our friend’s house and had the chef come to us!

We hosted a similar event last year at our house after meeting a local chef while we were taking a cooking class.  We enjoyed his class so much we invited him to come to our house and teach us and a few friends to make a pasta dinner.  The evening was part cooking instruction and part sit down meal, he even handles all the clean-up.  We made homemade pasta, a simple and delicious red sauce, and a quick and easy tiramisu.  The evening was so fun we decided to do it again, this time our friend hosted and we went with a Mediterranean menu.

We were on wine duty so we wheeled our cooler full o’ wine down the block to kick off the evening.  We are classy like that.  Hey, what we lack in class we make up for in safety.  Safety first!


We were all excited for a wonderful evening, sidecars in sugar rimmed glasses were awaiting us upon our arrival.


A toast to the hostess.


Have no fear, we did eat food too.  The menu for the evening…

Flaming Saganaki
Greek Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Lemon Orzo Soup
Herb Crusted Leg of Lamb
Seasonal Fruit Crisp

The chef put us to work straightaway helping , starting with the main course preparation.  We chopped lots of herbs and garlic to stuff and roll in the lamb leg.  He walked us through trussing the meat for cooking.  I am confident in most areas of cooking, but there are a few things I steer clear of, trussing I avoid.  Having him walk us through this process took the fear out of it for me.  I now feel comfortable enough taking this on by myself.

truss the lamb

The men practiced the new skill with direction from the chef.

truss lessonAs he prepped the lamb he talked to us about the butcher, selecting the meat, and prepping it.  Getting an expert opinion on where to get great meat is always helpful.  The lamb leg the chef brought was slaughtered two days earlier and butchered the day of our dinner.  It is helpful to find a reliable local option for meat so you can get the most for your money.

Next we were onto the berry crisp with these gorgeous berries.


We mixed the berries with some lemon juice and sugar.  We then tossed them in some cornstarch, the cornstarch helps to thicken the filing while it cooks.  We then put the berries in a pie pan, topped them with a crumb topping and put it in the oven for 45 minutes.

berry crisp

Next, on to some food to eat pronto, saganaki.  How did I never know that it was Ouzo that was set on fire for this dish?  I’ve been to Greek Town a lot, I guess I just never gave it any thought.  Something else I learned, saganaki is not the type of cheese but the name of the dish.  The cheese to use is actually kefalotyri or kasseri.  The saganaki was AH-MAZING.  And you know what, it is super easy to make at home!  I can’t wait to give it a try.


Back to work, this time we all got busy using our chopping skills to transform this bowl…


into this bowl…

Greek salad

A gorgeous colorful Greek salad dressed with a simple lemon vinaigrette dressing.  Simple is hard to do successfully.  I helped taste test, though I missed what actual ingredients went into it.

lemon vinaigrette action

A shot of Ouzo was slipped into the prep as some point. Opa!


Finally, dinner time.  No doubt the chef was ready to get us rowdy dinner guests out of the kitchen.  The table was set beautifully. No detail overlooked…


e chef served and cleared each course.  The lemon orzo soup was my favorite.  I was kind of amazed at how flavorful it was, given how little time it took to put together and cook.  Even my husband loved it, he a proclaimed hater of lemon in his savory food.  I am going to make a big batch this week for lunch.  I want to work it into a cold pasta side too, maybe top it with some feta.

Lemon Orzo Soup


Lemon Orzo Soup
Recipe Type: Soup
Author: Aram Elie
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 8
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, coins
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 c Chicken stock
  • 1 c orzo
  • lemon
  • Parmesan cheese
  1. In soup pot, saute onion and carrot until tender; 4-5 min
  2. Add in garlic, saute till aromatic
  3. Add stock, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer
  4. Add orzo
  5. Cook till al dente, 8 min
  6. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, Parmesan and parsley
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper


The main course was of course delicious too.  I have never made lamb leg before, but I feel confident enough to take it on now.  Couscous and zucchini were the sides.  Again, simple, and simple is hard to do right.  I never seem to be able to sauté zucchini without over cooking it.

main course

The berry crisp dessert was wonderful, especially complete with piping hot robust coffee.  All-in-all a wonderful evening complete with delicious food, great friends, and lots of fun new skills and recipes to bring home to our own kitchens.

Dinner Crew

When all was said and done, a cheaper and more enjoyable evening out to eat.  We spent less per couple compared to a $$ restaurant.  We learned some new skills.  We were able to ask the chef all the questions we wanted.  We got to help cook.  We got to sit back and be served a wonderful dinner with no dishes to wash.  The best chef’s table I could think to partake in, and only a block from home.  Our full bellies didn’t have far to stumble home.

Anyone ever have a chef come cook in your home?

Added bonus, I’m honored to have this evening featured in this month’s Foodbuzz 24 highlighting unique meals occurring around the globe during a 24-hour period.  Foodbuzz provided a stipend towards the meal cost.


  1. Sarah Cooke says:

    This was an amazing description of a fabulous night! Too bad we can’t do things like this all the time, eh? The saganaki would be fun to try on guests for an impressive start to an evening! It all looked delicious….

  2. Aimee says:

    How fun! I loved reading about this experience. You described everything beautifully and my mouth was watering. The lemon orzo soup sounds perfect. Congratulations on the Foodbuzz 24 feature. Well deserved!!

  3. Kiri W. says:

    Mmm, this looks like one fantastic menu! It’s always best to share a meal with people you love, you can just see the happiness in everyone’s faces!

  4. April says:

    Fantastic meal! I would love to have a chef come and instruct, food looks fabulous and I love the rolling cooler :)

  5. Chef Aram says:

    Hey Jacky

    I just saw this, what an amazing recap to a spectacular night. Thank you again so much for having me in your homes to cook with you guys and be a part of the family for a night. I hope to see you all soon. Happy cooking

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