They talk about the chef
Clients testimonials :
Myself and my party had an exceptional brunch because of you! Thank you for the phenomenal food, table scape and premier service… all the way from our first conversation to our last. You provided us more than I could have imagined and every little detail was perfect; from the rose petals on the table, the heart shaped pita bread, the watermelon fruit “basket”, the homemade cake (all was from scratch might I add)… I could on and on. I’m looking forward to seeing you next time in St. Tropez or wherever we might both end up. Thank you so much!
Thank you very much for a superb dinner last night. Everything was perfect!
Mrs Parden, 03/08/2020
Fantastic service and food. Made it such a special night.
Emmanuel came to cook for my wife's birthday. It was absolutely fabulous. His attention to detail was amazing. Three superb courses. All delicious. I cannot recommend him highly enough. Thank you.
Emmanuel provided a superb meal with complete service, on time, and at a very reasonable price. Haute cuisine with full range of menu choices. A wonderful alternative to going out to a fine restaurant or cooking at home. A highlight of our vacation!
We had a wonderful experience with Emmanuel. Nothing could be improved!
Laura Little, 17/07/2019
We have rented houses and brought in a chef for a special treat … for many years … in various countries. And I can say Emmanuel prepared the best ‘restaurant quality’ meal we have had anywhere. Just book him and you won’t regret it.
Dear Emmanuel, Thank you for making our birthday celebration so very very special. The food was amazing, your service so personal and everything was perfect ! this memory will be with us all for ever ! merci !
On behalf of all the family I would like to thank you for absolutely making Kirsten’s 80 th Birthday a day to always remember. Every dish was beautifully presented and by all the empty plates clearly enjoyed by all the party. I would also like to say how easy it was to make this arrangement with you, you are a true professional nothing it felt like nothing was too Much trouble …. A first time and great experience for all of us .. thank you : )
Linda Mills-Roberts, 20/06/2019
Absolutely wonderful. Am looking forward to another chef event!
Kimberly Davis Van Fossan, 14/06/2019
Thanks for a great dinner! Can really recommend Emmanuel. He is professional and delivers what he promises.
Karin Sundbäck, 23/03/2019
Dear Chef, Thank you so very much for the incredible dinner that you prepared at the Villa Menuse for my mom's 90th birthday. Every course was absolutely delicious and the presentation was impeccable. Your charming personality added to the magic of the evening. Thank you again for an extremely memorable birthday celebration. All the best,
Joe Handley, 16/12/2018
Message : Excellent food. Excellent chef. Big menu to choose from and to a low price. Highly recommended
Erik Evensen, 01/10/2018
The dinner you prepared and served for the 12 of us was truly delightful. The risotto was excellent, the beef delicious and the Opera cake sumptuous. On top of the delicious food you also managed to find some excellent local wine. I thought the overall cost of the meal was very reasonable and the service you offered excellent.
Robin Smith, 07/2018
Thank you for the delicious meal you prepared for us at our villa last week. We were all incredibly impressed by not only the deliciousness of the food but by your professionalism - the food appeared as if by magic and we really had nothing to do except eat and enjoy !
We've remained Chef Emmanuel’s clients for years. He’s dependable, efficient, and equally at home in the kitchen as with guests. Best of all, though, is his cuisine. It’s always fresh and healthy, and he offers local favourites along with new taste combinations, often times embellishing his dishes with products - whether herbs, vegetables or edible flowers - grown right in his home garden. The way he arranges everything on the plate is an art itself. I’m delighted to recommend Emmanuel and his talents.
Jemma Hélène (author of French Lessons blog), 30/06/2018
Hello Emmanuel, I just wanted to thank you for looking after us all so well throughout our stay in Provence. We enjoyed meeting you and you cooked us delicious dinners every evening, which were beautifully served. It was a huge treat for me not to have to worry about all the shopping and food preparation and made the holiday really special. Our guests were very appreciative of your talents. Merci mille fois!
Emmanuel cooked us a beautiful meal for our 40th birthday catering simultanously for 8 adults and 6 very picky small children with a menu just for them. We all loved the meal, beautiful Fois Gras, delicious John Dory, cheese to die for and a beautiful baverois to finish. A truly memorable meal and an experience we hope to have again before our 50th!
Euan & Lisa
For a bachelorette party dinner, Mr. Sofonea cooked an absolutely delicious meal at our house. The lobster spaghetti were delicious and perfect and the lemon-butter on the fish main course was divine. The highlight at the end was the chocolate fondant. I look forward to our next dinner party with Mr. Sofonea! Kind regards,
Thanks so much for a great party - the food was fabulous and you guys were great - you all did a brilliant job. We will be back next year so hope you will cater for us again then! Regards
Hester and Simon
Hi Emmanuel, Many thanks for your note and many thanks also for coming to cook for us last night. The dinner was amazing. The quality of the food and presentation were fantastic. It was a real privilege to have you come and cook for us. We all enjoyed it greatly. We just wish we had booked you for a second night as it was so good ! Next time we are in Nice we will be sure to book you again.
Emmanuel, our recommendation for you comes as a little poem!
Emmanuel,you were so swell
Your cooking was divine
We loved the Gambas,and the veal
The vanilla sauce was so fine.
We loved the tart,and the kitchen so clean,
The washing up done
What a dream!
You gave us time to enjoy our meal to eat and laugh and sing,
We had such a wonderful night
Thanks for everything.
And when we return to Australia
And friends ask how do you feel,
We'll recommend Emmanuel
Who cooked us a bloody good meal!
We had a wonderful dinner prepared by Emmanuel! Everything was delicious! Emmanuel were extremely professional and easy to work with. He accommodated all of our dietary needs and helped to create a great meal for the kids as well.
Thank you for preparing a lovely meal for us last night. We all enjoyed it. Many thanks. Regards
The meal was delicious! The quality of the food was very high, the presentation flawless and the service impeccable. Overall, a fantastic experience. Thanks for making our last evening in Nice a truly memorable one.
I was delighted to have Chef Sofonea cook for us as part of our Monaco tour in a wonderful location in the French Riviera. The food was spectacular and Chef Sofonea was exceptionally interesting, and I can highly recommend the experience.
Fantastic guy, great food, and very happy clients. Emmanuel comes highly recommended.
Emmanuel has prepared meals on several occasions for some of my key clients visiting the South of France. Each of them were extremely happy with his service and commented on how delicious and well presented the food was. Emmanuel is easy to deal with, very creative, and always professional. Whether a dinner for 8 at home or a celebration for 100, I would recommend Emmanuel without question.
We have had the pleasure of having Emmanuel Sofonea Cook for us on several occasions at our summer house in the south of France. It is always a great gastronomic experience, and his menus are full of delicious local ingredients. He is very attentive and pleasant. We can highly recommend him and his services!
We had the chance to have Chef Sofonea cook for us twice and it was a real pleasure each time. Not only were the dinners excellent, the whole experience was a memorable one. My wife really appreciated the possibility to watch him work his magic, transforming raw ingredients into delicious dishes. Chef Sofonea was very generous with his time and his explanation about his work. I can only highly recommend him and I am looking forward to the next opportunity we'll have to have him cook for us.
Chef Emmanuel produced a fantastic dinner to start our celebrations on New Year's Eve 2014. The food was outstanding, and his skills and presentation in kitchen was superb. I have no hesitation recommending him and hope to see him return to our home soon. Thank you for such a memorable evening.
Jane - Hong Kong
It was a pleasure having Emmanuel take over the kitchen to produce a delicious dinner for 45 people. Everyone who thanked us for the party spoke about how good the food was. We know who to contact when we have another one.
Imaginative, beautifully presented dishes conjured up like a magician. All guests appreciated his dishes elegantly served without delay. Astounding to watch in different environments at each occasion. Don't know how he does it!
Philippe Weiser from Carlton International
Thank you chef for a lovely and memorable dinner at Callas. We all enjoyed your delicious and beautifully presented cuisine. Hope to see you again next year. All the best.
Emmanuel created quite a lovely meal for me when I was in Villefranche sur Mer--delicate and flavorful using the best of local ingredients. I'm sorry I was only there one night--I would have liked to see what he would have done the second day. But I was impressed by his knowledge, technique and presentation.
Laurie Werner, contributor at Forbes Magazine
It was a real pleasure having Emmanuel come and cook for us at our rented house in Callas. He came our second night before we had time to shop and it was delicious. So good, we had him back again. In addition to great food served with elegance, Emmanuel is a lot of fun with a great sense of humor. Highly recommended!
We would like to thank you very much for the wonderful food and the excellent services you provided on my anniversary party! It was a real pleasure working with you and I will recommend you to anyone. Best regards.
Thank you so much for the delicious food that you cooked for us on our family holiday in Bar Sur Loup. It was such a pleasure knowing that you were coming to prepare your food each evening (and do the washing up!!) we all thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you again!!
Thank you very much for this excellent and enjoyable dinner. We all really appreciated your work, your service and professionalism. And in addition to the great food, we also enjoyed a "cooking class" -- thanks for letting us watch and lean while you were working.
Fantastic dinner party for both family and friends, highly recommend! 100 times better than going out for dinner. Many thanks.
Dear Emmanuel, thank you very much for making my birthday so perfect in St. Paul. It was a wonderful dinner and a beautiful birthday cake. We all 10 people enjoyed it very much.
Käthe and familie
Hi Emmanuel, Thank you for the services provided for us last week. The food was delicious, and I hope that we can use your services when we return to France next year. Will tell my friends about your services as well, guess there will be more people using the summer house later this year. Thanks!
Dear Chef Emmanuel, thank you for the two wonderful dinners you prepared for us last week. I have to say that all of our guests and ourselves were really impressed by both the quality of the food and the service delivered. I am sure that we will meet again next time we go to La Rouqette (next summer). Thank you!
Lars & co
Thank you for a great evening with a wonderful dinner in Valbonne. The food and service were excellent and to remember! Best regards.
Cecilie with friends.
A truly lovely evening with fabulous food. I booked Emmanuel from the UK for a 50th birthday and 25th wedding anniversary celebration in the South of France this July. Emmanuel was so professional and the food fantastic. We would definitely use him again. Thank you for making our evening very special.
Karen Smith & friends.
Excellent chef ! He came to our house in Callas, France and voila, made an unforgettable dinner for 12 pax. I really recommend his service and gastronomic dinner for all gourmandes out there. Best regards,
Bjorn with friends.
We celebrated a friend´s 40-th birthday in Callas and had asked Emmanuel to come and surprise our friend. It was such a success. The three course dinner was delicious and Emmanuel was very professional and easygoing. I can recommend his services to everyone who wants to have an unforgettable meal cooked right in your home.
Merci beaucoup -- the meal you prepared for 14 of us in Villefrance-sur-Mer was excellent, with wonderful personal touches. You seemed as comfortable in the kitchen as if you knew it well, when in fact you first saw it that afternoon! Your skill and attention to detail allowed us all to simply relax and enjoy the evening.
Again, many thanks.
Thank you for your work at Chateau de la Baude which our guests much appreciated. I hope we can avail of your gastronomic talents in a future visit to Provence.
Many thanks for providing such culinary magic for 19 of us for a week in Provence. Your inspired creations and the fact that you expertly catered for a few allergies at each meal made for a very pleasureable and memorable experience.
Dear Chef Emmanuel,
Thanks so much for cooking for us at Tourrettes-sur-Loup. We really enjoyed the food and the conversation!
Anyone who is considering hiring Emmanuel please do so: he's easy-going, very flexible, and produced a meal that we'll never forget. We especially enjoyed his shrimp entree... but all three courses he served got a round of applause.
Thanks again; if we're back in town we'll definitely do it again!
Emmanuel Sofonea provided a very professional service as well as high quality food at a private party. It was a pleasure working with him and I would recommend his services any time
Dear Chef Emmanuel,
My family and I would like to thank you for your proffesional service and the delicious food you made at Residence les Serres. We were all impressed and in love with your food! It was a pleasure to work with you. We will definitly ask you again in the future.
Thanks and kind regards,
Hello Chef Sofonea, I thank you again for the wonderful meals you prepared for our ladies at La Rivolte. It was an unforgettable experience for all of us.
Warmest regards from Canada!
On behalf of my company I would like to thank Emmanuel for his services during Cannes Film Festival 2010. The barbeques dishes were well chosen and prepared. It was a pleasure working with you and I will not hesitate to recommend your services.
Thank you once again
My family and I would like to thank you very much for the professional and pleasant way you prepared and served a meal for my husband's 70th Birthday Party. The meal was delicious and beautifully cooked. We hardly knew you were there, you were so unobtrusive. If we ever return to your area again for another special occasion we would without a doubt hope that you would be able to cater for us.
Thank you once again.
Having you cook for us during our holiday was the best experience ever, and so relaxing. The only drawback is actually coming back home again, to the pots and pans! Quite a shock! Still, I have some nice new recipies to try out.
I hope we can do the same again next summer...
The Tournant family - London
Thank you, so very much for the great experience for the delicious food you made for us. We can still feel the taste of "gourmet d`france", and this will be stuck in our memories for the longest. Untill next time....thank you, and take care.
Monica with family. Norway
It was a pleasure for us to have you cook those fabulous meals for us during our holiday in France. everything you made was so delcious and beautifull presented. We are all delighted to have you cook for us and our friends over month. We can still feel this excellent taste. Hope to see you next year. Kind regards and merci.
Helena with family and friends
Not only is Emmanuel a hugely talented chef with equisite presentation, he is an absolute pleasure to deal with. We had Emmanuel prepare a fabulous four course meal to celebrate my 40th Birthday at a villa near Mougins. We were all hugely impressed with the presentation and choice of foods supplied by Emmanuel. He is quite simply a true chef of distinction and we would not hesitate in recommending him and we will most certainly be using his services on on return.
Merci Emmanuel !
NO.. its us who thank YOU, and of course Charlie!
We enjoy the delicious food and good service! And unforgetable day...thanks to you...and our guests! As a matter of fact...we still enjoy it...so I'm kitchen free! Food for two more days ;-)
Take care...and we will be in touch! All the best...
Thank you very much for a truly memorable evening in our home in Valbonne. We were all delighted to have you cook a wonderful meal and our friends were so impressed that I just know that they will be demanding your services too. It is such a lovely way to spend an evening, in the privacy of your own home. Your service was also impeccable. We hope to see you next year! Kind regards et merci from Deborah Chadwick, Sydney"
Emmanuel cooked an absolutely fabulous seafood menu for us which included lobster risotto and scallops with orange butter - it was a special evening with good friends and they were all suitably impressed with his classy service and meticulous aftercare of my kitchen! A big thank you to Emmanuel whom I have no problem recommending to anyone over and over again.
It was a pleasure for all of us to have you cook those wonderful meals - for my father to comment in a positive way on cooking is rare indeed, as my Mother can confirm! He is involved in the Chain des Rotiseurs or similar, excuse the spelling error.
Your cooking was superb and we shall definitely add something to your website. I found it very inspirational how you could with some preparation prepare an excellent meal so efficiently. Please keep me informed of your idea on a cooking school. We shall hopefully meet again next year.
What an amazing meal we had thanks to Emmanuel. He is an amazingly talented chef, everything he made was so delicious and so well presented. He is such a nice, gentle personality and a delight to watch in action. What a treat to have him cook for us in Bargemon. The white chocolate mousse with exotic fruits was the stuff of dreams! You will not regret having Emmanuel cook for you!
MANY thanks for your really professional work for the Catlin Group & for me. You did an excellent job & we look forward to working with you again next year. I will be in contact as soon as I have the dates for 2008.
Thank you! Everything you prepared and the presentations you created exceeded our expectations on every level. It was such a joy to have you at the house for the week of our wedding. You are such a wonderful chef and person, and I sincerely appreciate how you made yourself so available to us and really took care of everyone. All of our family and friends had such a good time when we dined. We all agreed that we hope that one day we have the opportunity to dine at your table again. Warmest Regards,
Judy and Erik Norgaard
Whilst staying in our villa on Cap D'Antibes for my 'hen' partythis week, Emmanuel came and prepared a fantastic meal for myself and 7girlfriends. Not only was the menu specifically tailored for ladies whodo not want too many carbs !, but it was so delicious and beautifullypresented (he even provided his own decorative plates). Emmanuel was not intimidated by 8 giggly women, he was charming and delightful and to capit all, he washed up and left the kitchen sparkling. I would highlyrecommend him and will be booking him myself again shortly. Well done and thank you Emmanuel !
I used Emmanuel twice in one week whilst entertaining some V.I.P.'s at a villa near Antibes. Everyone was so impressed not only with the food, which was excellent, but also with Emmanuel's attitude, approachability and interaction with the guests. Really made the villa stay very special for all! Would highly recommend using his services.
Emmanuel created a very special dinner for our family during our recent holiday near Avignon. The food was fantastic and the presentation was phenomenal. In short, a super experience that I highly recommend.
We had Emmanuel for a whole day, lunch and dinner. Before we arranged for him we had many former customers highly recommend him so our expectations were high. I am pleased to say that the actual experience far exceeded those expectations. The food was superb, the presentations exquisite and his company a delight. We would very strongly recommend a full day of his service. It was the highlight of our trip to France.
Bob and Lynn Crawshaw
We rented a villa in Mougins for a week in July 2004 to celebrate my husband's 40th birthday with friends and family. During that week you prepared three dinners for our group of about ten. Most importantly, the meals were delicious. In addition, you were prompt, courteous and took no offense when we needed to start the dinners later than I anticipated. Thank you so much for your service.
Hilary and Giorgio
Two weeks ago, you prepared and served lunch and dinner for our group of eight people staying at a villa north of Cannes. Everythnig was marvelous. We are delighted that we elected to have you that day. It made our visit to France even more special.
Emmanuel was the consummate professional. We were in awe at the presentation as well as the brilliance of the menu.The food was unforgettable and there is no doubt that when we are back in the South of France, we will be looking for this amazing Chef again. Next time perhaps we will have more guests to impress, but this time for an intimate dinner birthday party for four, he made this a night to remember.Thank you so much.
You are gifted - a genious. See you again
Mazeena and Heinz Ziegler
Emmanuel: Thank you for making our 40th anniversary celebration special. The food was "magnifique" and Bernard's service superb. We could not have asked for better food or service. Do not hesitate to use me as a reference. Many thanks.
Thank you ever so much for a wonderful saturday evening, we all enjoyed it very, very much. The food was a delight for the eye and so tasty !!
It was a pleasure to see how you work in a foreighn kitchen and we did enjoy that you had time to be sociable too. We give you **** for the food + presentation and you get aswell **** for the way the kitchen was cleaned and tidyed up afterwards.
We will defently recommend you to all our friends !!!
Hope to see you again in the future, thanks very much !!!
Regards from Lone, Peter, Yvette and Richard.
Thank you very much for such a beautiful meal on Sunday evening, we thoroughly enjoyed it. We thought that particularly the veal was exceptional. We enjoyed everything that we ate as you could tell from the empty plates afterwards!! Also thank you so much to Rome who looked after our party perfectly, she was so attentive and very charming. Also thank you for leaving the kitchen perfectly cleaned and the surpise that we found the following day of the veal. Steven was very happy with that!!Thank you once again and I will certainly be recommending you to my friends in the area. With kindest wishes to both you and Rome.
Life Mags Surrey | July 2014
It doesn't get any better than this
(...)Chef Emmanuel Sofonea provided scrumptious toasts with salmon before moving on to a gourmet four course meal with amazing produce and ingredients provided by Froggy Gourmet.(...)
> Read the article
Harper's Bazaar | May 2014
Domaine la Sylviane, Valbonne, French Riviera
(...)While the generously sized and well-stocked family kitchen is at your disposal for breakfast, lunch and quiet dinners, we'd recommend hiring a private chef for any catering that requires a little more pizazz. Our favourite is chef to the stars Emmanuel Sofonea, who has honed his craft through working exclusively in private kitchens for the last 15 years, cooking up a storm for everyone from Will Smith to Pierre Bergé. He served us up a 4-course feast of tuna tartar with mango, rack of lamb served with red wine gravy, creamy goats cheese and bread, and a fruit parfait encased in chocolate. Seated under the stars on the flower-strewn rustic terrace, it was a real "pinch-me" moment.(...)
Vogue UK | May 2014
Postcards From... Monaco
(...)the most delicious meal of tuna tartare and rack of lamb was cooked for us by our private chef Emmanuel Sofonea..(...)
Ham & High | April 2014
Travel review: Stunning Monaco still destination of choice for world's super rich
(...)The concierge service can organise everything from yacht charters to helicopter hire and private chef Emmanuel Sofonea, who has cooked for famous clientele, including Will Smith, Cyndi Lauper, the Shah of Iran, and world-renowned CEOs, is on hand to rustle up a banquet at a moment's notice, while Jules Wines provides luxury vintages to accompany dinner.(...)
> Read the article
Easyjet UK magazine | April 2014
LUXURY LIFE... A taste of the Riviera
(...)We are led through to a large dining area, where we immediately understand in more detail the attraction of staying in a villa over a hotel. A private chef, Emmanuel Sofonea has prepared a wonderful array of foods including ginger bread with the creamiest foie gras and a local favourite, cod with ratatouille (www.unchefchezvous.com/EN/index.htm).(...)
Luxury Travel Guide | March 2014
Alternatively, if you prefer a more private or intimate setting and wish to eat in the comfort of your own living quarters opt for the phenomenal services of Emmanuel Sofonea. With more than 30 years' experience working as a professional chef, Emmanuel Sofonea provides a high standard of service for a wide variety of occasions; from intimate dinners and cocktail parties to corporate functions. His style of cooking is heavily influenced by the Mediterranean, Fusion Middle Eastern Cuisine and Italian, light, and some Asian. Each dish or appetiser includes nothing but the highest quality produce freshly sourced by Emmanuel himself. His glittering CV boasts many famous clientele from Mr and Mrs Will Smith to Cyndi Lauper, as well as many world renowned CEOs.
> Read the article
Luxisto | April 2004
Relevance | March 2014
After a tour by the estate manager, the private chef Emmanuel Sofonea presented a four-course 5-star dinner in the villa dining room alongside Gaëlle from Jules Wines who presented local red, rosé, white and Crémant wines from a local vineyard. Entees included crispy nem of ricotta and fresh pesto, and zucchini stuffed with chorizo, and mains included filet of Guinea fowl with sweet potatoes cake and Madagascar vanilla sauce and cod with baby ratatouille, and peppers sauce.
> Read the article
The Riviera woman | February 2014
With over 20 years experience as Head Chef, Emmanuel can tailor your menu to suit your occasion and create the perfect atmosphere! Using only the best ingredients, this chef will create magnificent dishes at your chosen location, be it at home, or on location of your chosen venue... From an exclusive party to a banquet. It can be a dinner for 8 or cocktails for a 100. Delicious!
> Read the article
Provence Posten | March 2008
An article in a dutch newspaper
I haven't translated it in english, but you can take a look at it by clicking here
PCI CHEF SPOTLIGHT !
From the PCI's newsletter June issue
" French chef Emmanuel Sofonea was born in Lyon, which he proudly claims is "the worldwide capital of gastronomy." He found his passion for cooking while working temporarily in a restaurant at the age of 15. It wasn’t the money that inspired him – the chef worked 12 hours a day, with only one day off a week, earning $25 a month!
He started his apprenticeship in a restaurant owned by the chef to the Shah of Iran, followed by a stint at the restaurant of Chef Roger Roucou, a giant in French gastronomy. His dedication and enthusiasm paid off – he graduated at the top of his class and was invited to participate as a finalist in Paris for the Best Apprentice of the Year competition.
Chef Sofonea started broadening his culinary repertoire by traveling and working at restaurants and hotels across the globe - from Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany and France to Lebanon, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and the USA.
The experience soon paid off when he was hired as private chef to the CEO of the famous French fashion store, Galeries Lafayette, and cooked for such VIPs as Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Bergé, Sonia Rikiel, and ambassadors to the US and Japan.
Though his career was flourishing, Chef Sofonea was only 23 years old and itching for more travel and adventure.
He went backpacking to the south of France and within two days, landed the job of private yacht chef to a sheik from Oman, and later, yacht chef to a NY businessman.
These experiences inspired him to continue cooking exclusively for private individuals and he now boasts a list of faithful clients that include couturier Lanvin, jeweler Chopard, Italian playboy/actor Gargia, and Russian oil baron Arkmadov.
However, Chef Sofonea has never been motivated by money. "Respect, humanism, and generosity should be the goal for all of us," he says. He donates a portion of his monthly income to an organ donation foundation and assists other chefs in starting their own businesses. He has enjoyed his association with PCI’s London branch and believes, "If everybody in this world does a little for another, this world will be better."
It’s that generosity of spirit, combined with talent, dedication and experience that makes Chef Emmanuel Sofonea an exceptional private chef. "
Le Gastrozone - French Entrée | MAR 05
Restaurant of the Month.
FrenchEntrée reader, Katie Lancaster, and her French partner, Gerome, had a very memorable evening, when they tried out personal chef, Emmanuel Sofonéa. The couple, who live on the Côte d’Azur, eat out frequently, but found the meal that Emmanuel cooked for them, in their own home, was absolutely outstanding. Here is Katie’s review:
Restaurant: Un Chef Chez Vous. Not a restaurant; a personal chef.
Location: Katie and Gerome’s house.
Opening hours: Emmanuel is available for lunch and dinner, 7 days a week.
Prices: €38 per person, upwards.
Review: Emmanuel Sofonéa, our personal chef for the evening, arrived at 5pm, so that he had time to prepare and we could eat at 7:30. We had exchanged emails about the menu for the evening, but otherwise we had no idea what to expect; we hadn’t even had a friend cook for us in our own home. Immaculately dressed in his starched white chef’s outfit, Emmanuel came equipped with his own incredible selection of knives, and his own plates - he is familiar with the presentation of food on his plates. Apart from his knives and the crockery, he would be using our equipment.
I showed him through to the kitchen, where he had a look around, and immediately asked for all the things he needed, which he couldn’t see. Then he quietly got on with preparing the meal. Emmanuel was very pleasant throughout the evening, but he kept himself to himself until the meal was about ready, when we all relaxed and chatted more.
We had opted to go with the Chef’s expert wine selection, but he still made sure we were happy with his choice, before pouring out the first glass, for Gerome to approve. It was a delightful white Côtes de Provence, Roseline 2004, and Emmanuel kept our glasses topped up throughout the meal.
The inspiring menus of Un Chef Chez Vous are in three tiers; €38, €45 and €60 per person, and we had finally decided on a starter and main course from the €35 options, and a dessert from the €60 menu. Emmanuel stresses that he is flexible, and will design a menu with customers and make price adjustments accordingly.
Our chef elegantly served our beautifully presented starters, which were ‘Croustillant de gambas, salade mesclun, huile aux 5 poivres’ (Crisped giant prawns, and mesclun salad with five pepper oil). We were delighted with our first course, which was imaginative, delicate and delicious. We got plenty of juicy prawns, in delicate twists of crispy filo pastry. The prawns surrounded the leaves and herbs, and the aromatic oil went perfectly. Emmanuel left us to enjoy our starters at leisure.
The main course was superb; ‘Dos de saumon pôelé aux légumes beurre de betterave’ (Fillet of salmon with young vegetables and beetroot butter). This was really artistically presented but very edible at the same time, and the salmon fillets were far from stingey in size. The flavours were tasty and really wonderful together, and the special vegetables were a treat.
We had decided that we couldn’t manage a cheese course, but when Emmanuel asked if we could eat dessert, we nodded enthusiastically, saying “Oh, yes!”. We were not disappointed. This was the nicest dessert I think I have ever had: ‘Tarte tatin à la mangue confite parfum de cannelle, glace chocolat’ (Tarte tatin of mango, poached with cinnamon, and served with chocolate ice-cream). The tart was warm, with wafer-thin filo pastry holding fabulous confited mangos, and was topped with an incredibly luxurious dark-chocolate ice-cream, which melted and mingled with the rest of the dish. A home-made caramel sauce was drizzled over the top, and a sculpted piece of kiwi and sprig of mint were placed at the side, for a bit of freshness. It was really wonderful, and it was a perfect balance of warm, cold, colour, textures and flavours.
We complimented Emmanuel throughout the meal, because it really was amazing. Gerome had been to several of Cannes' top restaurants for conferences, earlier in the week. These meals had cost around €80 a head, but were not as memorable as the one made and served by Emmanuel.
The whole experience of having ‘un chef chez nous’ was fantastic. Emmanuel’s discretion and impeccable service were crucial, and he really had thought of everything. Details like the fact that he never picks at the food he is preparing (Gerome asked how he resisted!), and the carefully-chosen bread which he provided really made a difference. What really took our breath away, was when we finished our relaxed dessert and turned around; we realised that Emmanuel had been silently clearing up the kitchen! The kitchen was clean before he arrived, but he had made it absolutely immaculate! He had even folded-up the tea-towels, and put them in a neat pile in the corner. It was then that we noted how quiet and clatter-free our chef had been all evening.
When the time felt right, Emmanuel said good-bye, and left us to relax with the rest of our wine. We hadn’t known what this evening would be like, but all in all we were thoroughly impressed. Neither of us had eaten anything quite like Emmanuel’s food before, and we would definitely pay for this real luxury again. I will be recommending Un Chef Chez Vous to everyone I know!
Chefs are employed to cook gourmet meals in French homes.
Employing a Chef to cook all your meals is traditionally the preserve of royalty and the super-rich. But now a phenomenon imported from the US is changing the culinary habits of France. Instead of going out to dinner, the French are increasingly likely to employ a chef for the evening, entertaining friends or business colleagues in the comfort of their own home.
I caught up with Emmanuel Sofonéa, a private chef who is reviewed in this month’s ‘Restaurant of the Month’, to ask him how and why he started his company ‘Un Chef Chez Vous’. After a vast amount of cheffing experience, 10 years of working all over the world, 2 years fo cheffing on yachts, and numerous major awards for his culinary skills, Emmanuel decided to settle in his own country, and do what he does best - cook. He didn’t want to work for anyone else, or have the restrictions of a restaurant to run, so he developed a way of working which he had encountered in the Sates, and ‘Un Chef Chez Vous’ was born...
When did you first start cooking? “When I was 15. I grew up in Lyon, where I would help out in local restaurants during weekends and holidays. I knew I didn’t want to stay at school, but it was quite by chance that I got this kitchen job and realised that that was where my future lay. I subsequently graduated from the chef’s school in Lyon. I now have 26 years experience in professional cooking, and 5 years as a personal chef.”
(Not bad for a 42 year old!)
Why did you decide to cook for customers in their homes? “I was no longer happy to work in a restaurant, because of the stress, and because you never get to see your customers. Although I wear a chef’s uniform to cook, and make meals to a very high standard, it is a much more relaxed and friendly way of doing things than a restaurant, where a chef’s attention is on too many things at once, and the food can suffer. I had seen private chefs starting to appear when I worked in Chicago, in 1990, and always liked the idea.”
Emmanuel works alone, but manages to find the time to choose all of his ingredients himself. He emphasises the importance of quality ingredients in creating a gourmet dish, and enjoys making his selections from the colourful local markets. He has settled in Antibes, on the glamourous Côte d’Azur, where there is always plenty of fresh, local produce to choose from, and a wealth of customers wanting some luxury.
All the ingredients are bought fresh on the day that a meal is served. My mouth waters reading his inspiring menu, which sounds so fresh. I think I’d go for ‘sea bream carpaccio with fresh herbs, followed by Ostrich tournedos with curry and roasted carrots scented with vanilla. Then, after cheese, I’d like the mango tarte tatin, poached in cinnamon, and served with chocolate sorbet. Emmanuel also provides the puff pastry nibbles to go with aperitifs, and a different bread tailored to each course.
Why do people choose you over restaurants? “It depends. A friendly atmosphere, people can enjoy themselves and relax with their guests, but also sometimes because they like to say, “Tonight we have a Chef”!
Business entertaining with a personal chef is also becoming more popular. This approach is used a lot in the USA.
Also, people can pay individually for their meal, so it’s a good way for friends to meet more often at each other’s houses, for a gourmet meal, without the worry of who is going to pay.”