Al fresco caterer has the drive to keep cooking after lockdown
A LYMINGTON caterer plans to continue a special lockdown al fresco cooking service after seeing demand stay strong despite government plans to reopen pubs and restaurants.
Mich Rae (52), of 7th Wave Events, is offering a package in which she parks up on a customer’s driveway to prepare a sumptuous three-course meal as part of the Dine in Deluxe service – and she even takes away the dirty dishes, writes Lauren Lewis.
The Hordle resident started the operation during England’s first coronavirus lockdown last year and has since catered for more than 80 occasions, such as birthdays and other special events.
However, plans to stop the service when the latest lockdown eases later this month have been pushed back by Rae due to continuing demand.
Sarah Murray (59) first used Dine in Deluxe for her son’s birthday in April 2020 and is already planning to use Mich for two meals this summer.
She said: “After the lockdown lifts, I think it will be really tiring spending lots of time around large groups of people.
“The Dine in Deluxe service is a really nice way to spend quality time with people in your own surroundings, or at a friend’s.”
As part of the service, Mich said she tries to bring the restaurant to the home.
She said: “Everything I do is restaurant style with all the bells and whistles, and I display the food beautifully, so it looks just as good too.”
Alison Ward (50) tried out the service last May and said she saw Dine in Deluxe as a rare opportunity for a lockdown treat.
She said: “I think the fact that it has been so long since we have been able to spend time with people socially has made us think harder about what we want to spend money on for a bit of a treat.
“I know that Mich’s service is not cheap, but the quality of her food makes it well worth the money.”
Prices range from £45.50 up to £55.50 for a variety of three-course menus including lamb, steak, fish and vegetarian options.
Alison explained how they chose the menu collaboratively with Mich in February, settling on a selection of seafood, followed by a seared fillet steak, and brownie platter.
She said they returned to sample Mich’s stuffed Romano red peppers, charcuterie platter, sirloin steaks, and burgers in Dine in Deluxe experiences in May and December.
Mich, who describes herself as “not a trained chef, but a very experienced cook”, said her menus serve only as a guide and can be tailored to suit individual tastes and dietary requirements.
Any preparation work, such as making tomato and cinnamon sauce or her special bacon jam, is done by Mich at home, but everything else is prepared fresh on-site with ingredients sourced from local vendors.
The operation begins when Mich arrives an hour before the client wants their starter served and takes 20 minutes to erect a small pop-up gazebo, trestle table, and warm up a turbo oven in the back of her van before she cooks.
Dishes are plated up and placed on a table to be collected and returned by the clients in order to comply with Covid-19 social-distancing guidelines.
Customer Sarah said: “There was no reason to have any contact.
“Mich was completely self-sufficient. All the power she used was from a Calor gas bottle she brought with her and she didn’t even need any hot water from us.”
Mich said she has taken several steps to ensure the Dine in Deluxe service falls within government guidelines and protects clients.
She explained: “I stay local and have even turned down enquiries in Basingstoke, Winchester, and Wareham, because I can’t justify the travelling.
“Any crockery I use is put through my restaurant-grade dishwasher before it gets used again and clients are asked to provide their own cutlery and glasses.
“I maintain social distancing at all times and have been in touch with my environmental health officer to check that what I am in doing is safe and legal – which it is.”
Rae’s 7th Wave Events will also offer an afternoon tea through the summer, boasting miniature scones, sausage rolls, and brownies.
For more information visit www.7thwave-events.co.uk