Sunday, January 9, 2011

Intimate (SURPRISE!) Birthday Dinner for Two

As a Chef/Caterer/Teacher, just about everything I do is rewarding.  Whether I'm making a pre-made dinner for a busy lady to feed her family, teaching a young husband how to grill vegetables for his new wife, showing a child how to make Tacos, setting up in a corporate conference room to show employees that healthy cooking doesn't have to be bland, or being a part of the most important day in many people's life (their wedding day), I am never running low on satisfaction in my job.  But every once in a while, I have the incredible honor of being a part of something extra-special.  Something that stands out from the crowd, and really makes my heart sing.  On Wednesday, January 5th, I had one of those events.

Way back in the fall, I got a cold call from Markeisha Lauderdale inquiring about my catering services.  She explained that January 5th is her long-time boyfriend, Jeff's, 26th birthday, and she wanted to go all out to make his birthday one for the history books. She had an entire day planned to pamper him, and then top it off with a surprise dinner in her apartment catered by The Chef Next Door.  The day would go like this:  First, she would convert her living room into a barber shop, and have a barber come fix him up and have him looking his best.  Next, she would spin her living room into a spa, and have a professional come give him a facial, a massage, and a pedicure.  Wow, talk about being "King" for a day!  She would make it seem as the surprises were over, and they would finish off the day by going out for a nice dinner in Huntsville.  But for the grand finale, she would have Jeff come pick her up and be totally shocked when he found out that the "restaurant" was in fact her apartment, and she had a private chef making a beautiful 4-course dinner just for them.  She named the restaurant "Lanyé's"- a creative twist on Jeff's last name, Layne. And that is precisely how it went.

Markeisha and I strung twinkle lights around her living and dining room, set the table, lit many a candle, and even placed a fire pot on a side table for extra romance.  She special ordered his favorite, hard-to-find Tequila (forgive me, I don't remember the name), printed and laminated a menu for Lanyé's, chilled a bottle of Moscato, put on some Kenny G, and turned the lights down low while Chef Margaret created a dinner fit for "King Jeffrey".  They wined, they dined, and I think Markeisha has gone down as the Queen of Romance among her friends and family.  It was truly a beautiful evening- one that I am proud to have been a part of.  I think we should all take some inspiration from Markeisha and take a moment to appreciate the ones we love and do something special for them today.  A hand-written note, a sweet text message, an unexpected hug, or.....a Dinner for Two by The Chef Next Door!  What????  This is MY blog after all; I'm allowed to do a bit of shameless advertising once in a while.  ;)

Enjoy these photos from Jeff's 4-Course Birthday Dinner at "Lanyé's"!

Bringin' the romance...
Isn't she so crafty??? She even made menus!

Ms. Markeisha, ready for the birthday boy to arrive!

First Course: Berries and Blue Salad
with Strawberries, crumbled Blue Cheese,
dried Cranberries, Sweet 'n Spicy Pecans,
and Honey Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette
Second Course: Ahi Tuna and Sockeye Salmon Tartare with Avocado Relish, Mango Salsa, Chili Oil,
Soy Reduction, and Red Hawaiian Sea Salt

Main Course: Buttermilk Fried Chicken Breast
with creamed Potatoes, flame-grilled Asparagus,
and a Spicy Honey Drizzle
Fourth Course: Chocolate Cake Napoleon
with Chantilly Cream, macerated Strawberries,
Chocolate Ganache and Strawberry Couli

The happy couple :)

Boy, do I love my job.  Thanks so much for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of such a special night, Markeisha. If any of you need to show your sweetie some extra attention, you know who to call.


The Chef Next Door

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