When celebrating a special occasion, we’ve become accustomed to either going out to eat or cooking for guests. Each options has its merits – an evening out is festive, and there is nothing like inviting others to dine at your table – but what if one is tired of restaurants or can’t muster the energy to cook for a large group of guests? Is it possible to achieve the same effect – a memorable dining experience – without going out or cooking?

We’re here to report on another dining option, a service that is up-and-coming in both the kosher world at large and our own community:  hiring a private kosher chef to cook a five-course, plated meal in your very own kitchen, and then lavish your guests with the taste of it.

“Enjoy customized menus, personalized service and the luxury of fine dining in the privacy and comfort of your home.” Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? In fact, it is the mission of these kosher culinary professionals, many of whom left years in the restaurant business to enjoy the more intimate feel of interacting with clients.

Here’s how it works: Your personal chef will brainstorm a menu with you, get a feel for the occasion and your personal taste, and then proceed to do everything from A-Z: buy the ingredients, do the preparatory work, cook on-site and come armed with a staff of waiters to serve your guests. It is a revolutionary concept: the charm and luxury of a restaurant brought to your home – no stress or effort required!

This service has come to cities across the United States, and we are fortunate enough to have two kosher personal chefs in our own community: Raymond Tawil and Elliot Chrem. Raymond and Elliot bring to your kitchen their distinct culinary backgrounds and their shared passion for cooking in new and surprising ways.

A Five-Star Restaurant in Your Home

Though he is only 22 years old, Raymond – or Ray T, as he is commonly known – already has six years of restaurant experience under his belt. He graduated sum cum laude from Johnson and Whales University in Providence, Rhode Island, one of the best culinary schools in the country, where he learned modernist techniques and earned a degree in culinary nutrition and food science, specializing in molecular gastronomy. This means he has both an understanding of the nutritional value of food and its effects on the digestive system. A skilled barbecuer, Raymond also has a flair for the unique, preparing food in ways that haven’t yet been seen. This includes using the sous vide cooker so that food retains its full, delicious flavor, using the art of foams and powder to turn olive oil into powder and using spherification to shape liquid into a sphere that resembles caviar. Raymond hand-makes everything, taking as much pride in the food’s presentation as he does in its taste.

“You’re choosing this because you’re a foodie and are bored of what you’re getting in a restaurant,” he opines. “I’m using cooking methods that haven’t been seen and turning your dining room into a five-star restaurant; I just need your kitchen!”

Outdoing the Shaatra

Elliot Chrem, who’s always been known as “the barbecue guy,” can say the same. He’s been a personal chef since 2005, catering to parties big and small, using his year as an assistant chef in a kosher restaurant as the basis for what he knows. “It was like boot camp!” he jokes. Elliot is continually browsing menus and watching other professionals, looking for what’s cutting-edge in the culinary world.

Elliot is fully aware that clients expect restaurant-level cuisine. “There’s nothing you can get in a restaurant that I can’t recreate in your house,” he insists. His five-course meal – typically a soup in the fall and winter, followed by a salad, appetizer, entrée and dessert – is replete with surprises that delight and astonish guests. Elliot takes pride in the reception his meals receive and believes it his duty to be purveyor of a luxury experience. “The women of our community are very shaatra,” he acknowledges. “They’re entertainers. I have to do it better than they can do it. Otherwise, there’s no reason to call me.”

For once, it seems, the women of our community are happy to be outdone. “I didn’t have to lift a finger,” they say gleefully when asked about the experience of using either Raymond or Elliot. “You’re home – everything is homemade – but you feel like you’re in a restaurant.” And of course there’s that glorious feeling of being served. “It’s a more relaxed feel.  The pressure is off you. You can just enjoy your guests.”

Admittedly, this is a luxurious enterprise and you will spend accordingly – but no more than if you’d gone out to a five-star restaurant with your family. So if you’re in the mood to splurge, or just want to celebrate in a way that you never have before, consider having a private kosher chef take over your home, so you can enjoy being a guest without having to walk out  the door.