Dinner chez FooDiva

Dinner chez FooDivaI very rarely host dinner parties. My entertaining chez moi is limited to one or two friends, three if I am feeling really hospitable. The time and effort that goes into organising a large dinner chez moi just puts me off. Plus given the essence of FooDiva and its #DineAroundDubai experiences, I would much rather eat out. I just relish getting dolled up, all for that wonderful feeling of anticipation every time a new restaurant opens.

But one day a chef took charge and rocked up at my door to cook dinner for eight. All I had to do was set the table, light the candles and ice the champagne. In fact, thanks to a wine fridge I didn’t even have to do the latter. Oh and I could still enjoy sprucing myself up. Now that’s something I could get used to.

Enter ChefXChange, the new chef for hire website I’ve written about in this round-up of caterers. The folks behind it asked me to host a dinner for a feature in The ProChef ME magazine (soon to relaunch as Hospitality Business Middle East). Given I am half Greek-Cypriot and I had family visiting, I chose the Greek chef behind one of my hidden haunts in Dubai, Elia restaurant – Ilias Kokoroskos. Yes it’s not just independent chefs on ChefXChange’s books, but restaurant professionals too.

Once I registered myself, the site allowed me to liaise directly with chef Ilias online. He set the menu – in my case a six-course feast inspired by seasonal spring Greek flavours – an ideal theme given we have Orthodox Easter coming up this Sunday. He was very adept at making allowances for dietary requirements. Trust me our party of eight had plenty. All dishes married traditional Greek ingredients with a creative, well-executed cooking style.

Elia menu - Dubai restaurantsWhite bean soup, bastourma (spicy, air-dried, cured beef), fennel crumble, orange essence

Octopus, fava bean puree, lemon confit, aromatic vinaigrette

Sea bass, kale, taramosalata, shrimp kateifi, black sesame, sweet garlic, seafood broth

Aromatic green salad, mizithra sheep’s cheese, apple sorbet, homemade oxymeli (honey vinegar)

Lamb chops, light tzatziki, mint, tomato confit, lemon essence, smoked potato

Sweet kateifi, pistachios, walnuts, mastic ice cream

We had an online discussion about cooking utensils (pots and pans, and so forth) so he could determine what he had to supplement, but some questions regarding crockery and cutlery would have been beneficial to ensure I had sufficient quantities. He brought a chef with him, Nazim, who was very helpful, but perhaps a waiter would have been more supportive to clear up at the end. Mind you, they washed up as the evening progressed. Menus for each guest as a take-away would have made a nice memento of the evening. It’s also a good marketing tool for the chef, the restaurant and the website.

Chef Ilias from Elia restaurant

All that aside, the ChefXChange service is very simple to use and hassle-free, making entertaining at home super easy. At AED350 per person for this particular chef and menu, it’s well priced, remembering there’s a tremendous cost saving in alcohol. You can discover a range of chefs and home cooks across a whole spread of cuisines, and all at different price points, with just a minimum of two people required to host a dinner. If I did not have to eat out so often, I could just be converted to dining chez FooDiva more regularly :).

Do you entertain at home? Have you ever hired, or would you hire a chef? Any recommendations?

If you’re Orthodox, happy Easter in advance :).

A bientôt.

FooDiva. x

Disclosure – ChefXChange invited me to use the service with no obligation to write about it. For a different spin on this dining experience, grab a copy of the May issue of Hospitality Business Middle East.

  • Posted under
    Caterers, Chefs, Dubai, Food Features, Location
  • Pin It

9 Responses to “Dinner chez FooDiva”

  1. Johann Z April 8, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    I must say that this concept of having a chef taking charge and doing all the intricate work of cooking and serving in your own home is a great concept – you can sit back and relax and enjoy the company of your guests. If you like experimenting with different cuisines but are not so confident in the kitchen with the cuisine of your choice this will take all the pain out of trying hard to ‘get it right’. Thanks for the info and for the links.

    • FooDiva April 11, 2015 at 4:44 pm

      True Johann. It could become an addictive service. Speed dial your favourite chef!

    • Karl May 15, 2015 at 9:05 pm

      Hi Johann,

      We would love to have you join our Foodie Community and try out one of the Dubai Chefs on the platform. They will be happy to tailor the experience to your liking and we hope you will find what you look for.



  2. ga April 9, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    I would love to hire a Chef, I think I might give it a try myself one evening. Looks like great fun.

    • FooDiva April 11, 2015 at 4:52 pm

      I’d like a live-in chef please GA! If you do try ChefXChange let me know how it fares – with price points starting at Dhs80 per person it’s not as prohibitively expensive as one would think.

  3. ga April 11, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    will do, it is a great concept and as you say affordable 🙂

  4. Nancy April 16, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Entertaining is so stressful for me as I don’t know what to feed the guests! This concept is perfect!

    • Karl May 15, 2015 at 9:06 pm

      Hi Nancy,

      We would love to have you join our Foodie Community and try out one of the Dubai Chefs on the platform. They will be happy to tailor the experience to your liking and we hope you will find what you look for.



  5. Matt Broderick October 1, 2016 at 11:37 am

    I love this concept but I would be genuinely torn between this and cooking myself. As I fancy myself as a chef-in-waiting and I love nothing more than hosting, I think I have to cook myself. I love reading faces and noises to get feedback (hopefully, good) on my food and knowing that I have delivered something worthy of discussion!

    However, for a special occasion I think I would like to try the chefs at home, planning the menu will be fun and having experts execute my ‘vision’ would allow to me to focus on getting the place looking good and entertaining my guests.

I’d love to receive your feedback, so feel free to comment any time.