There is nothing more rewarding for me when one of my functions goes well, my latest Private Dinner Party being no exception. I  become passionate about  a function from the moment I start designing the menu  and I was especially excited when the evening arrived for this weekends Hen Party Dinner. It is always a great buzz for me when I finally get to produce and serve the dishes, seeing all the planning and hard work come together.

This weekend the "Hens" were celebrating by hiring a beautiful house in Sandbanks and having me cook for them on the Saturday night. I put the three course menu together with Elaine Rutherford to make sure that every one's tastes were catered for and that we would provide an innovative menu that would give a wow factor to the guests. I offered a choice of scallop dishes upon request for the starter, some  duck dishes were narrowed down for the main course,  and we decided on offering a trio of desserts to follow. I sourced the scallops from Scotland as their cool waters provide excellent quality fish and seafood, especially at this time of year. I used Barbary duck breasts, being a farmed breed that are   very lean, but still have an amazing flavour, being perfect for the occasion. 

                                 Hen Party Dinner Menu                                                    

To Share
Freshly baked blush tomato and basil pesto bread, 
Marinated olives and hummus.

To Start
Char grilled scallops, wrapped in Parma ham.
                          Shallot, garlic and tarragon butter sauce, char grilled asparagus spears.

5 Spice marinated duck breast, crispy duck shank and duck and vegetable filo parcel..
                                 Honey, sesame and fennel glazed carrots, broccoli florets, honey and rosemary gravy.
Mille fuille of char grilled Mediterranean vegetables and mozzarella.  
Roasted plum tomato sauce, fresh basil pesto, balsamic roasted beetroot.

To follow
Trio of desserts
                                                     Vanilla crème brulee, caramel tuille, 
Lemon and fresh raspberry cheesecake, 
Chocolate chip and honeycomb ice cream.

I did most of my preparation in the morning and arrived at the house in Sandbanks just before 6 to serve the starters for 8:00p.m. I was greeted very warmly by Elaine and her sister Annette and unloaded my equipment into the kitchen. Although working with a small oven, the kitchen area was very spacious, giving me plenty of room to work with. It was also open planned next to the dining area so that I had no place to hide from the 12 Hens that were to be dining! However, everyone was really friendly and I was very comfortable getting on with the rest of my preparation. 

The evening went very quickly as I got my head down to serve the starter and I was really pleased from the feed back I received. I was offered a glass of red wine between courses which was very difficult to refuse but it put me in good stead for the main course, which again went well and I was very grateful for all the compliments. I was especially looking forward to serving dessert, but provided a little break as I was sure all the Hens were quite full. When I plated the final course, I was really pleased with my presentation and I was full of self relief and gratification that always comes when I feel that my job has been done well. 

While I was cleaning up after, I enjoyed a beer with the ladies and the atmosphere was very friendly as I even joined in a bit with their after Dinner games. I had a great evening and this was definitely one of my top menus that I have enjoyed preparing. A big, big thank you to all the hens and especially for helping out as waitresses when needed. I hope that I will get to cook again for such a lovely bunch of people. 

"Lovely, lovely, lovely. What a fantastic evening. Gary is such a nice man and his cooking is amazing - it was one of the nicest meals I have ever had - and so beautifully presented. He even kept the kitchen spotlessly tidy. I definitely recommend him for any private party - I shall be keeping his number for sure. Thank you Gary (and my daughters for arranging him of course!) x" Jan Rutherford