My wife and I had a conversation this morning that will be familiar to the pent-up paired-ups up and down the land. Remember dinner and a movie? Dinner and anything? Just… dinner? Wouldn’t that be nice.
It’s not just for the food. Or someone else cooking. Or someone else doing the washing up. It’s our kids. I mean, they’re the best and all that, but three servings a day every day with them since the beginning of the Christmas holidays, and I’m craving a meal where I don’t have to watch the little weasels try and hide half a carrot and a sprig of broccoli under a fork (they’re bigger than the fork and brightly coloured, kids – I can still see them).
Since the first lockdown began, restaurants have had it hard. Bar the Covid conduit Eat Out to Help Out, they’ve been barred from doing their thing. That is creating food, atmosphere and somewhere my wife and I can go to talk about, well, anything. So instead, they’ve been coming to us.
The most entrepreneurial have gone beyond HelloFresh-ing up our work surfaces, and instead bagged up their ingredients and sent them to us with here’s-one-I-made-earlier YouTube tutorials. Somewhere along the line there’s a promise of a same-but-not-quite-the-same experience in the comfort of our own homes. Bless ‘em for trying.
The latest of these comes in the form of a new initiative called StarChefs, launched by hospitality maven David Swann. It’s launching now in time for Chinese New Year – February 12 in this cycle – in partnership with Michelin-starred chef, Andrew Wong.
This, it has to be said, has given my tastebuds something to think about. A. Wong on Pimlico’s Wilton Street built its reputation by being geographically and spiritually aloof from the orange gloop served up in Chinatown, and, pandemic-permitting, is now offering diners food garnished with two Michelin Stars.
Can Wong deliver these in my house, in my kitchen, with my skills at his disposal? The answer is “Don’t be absurd”, but at the moment, I don’t actually know. Because the experience, a 13-dish bonanza created to celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Ox and to bring a very welcome dose of “prosperity, happiness and auspiciousness”, is only available for three nights, shipped to your home over next weekend on either the 11th, 12th or 13th of February.
The “feasting box” promises to come in four parts, with full re-heating and cooking instructions, of course. Sharing plate highlights are set to include classics such as crispy duck pancakes and vermicelli spring rolls (no doubt delivered with Wong’s traditional élan), alongside dishes that appear more tailored to the occasion, including the “three treasure” Waygu steak and the intriguing “saliva poached wantons”. Table decorations, a bespoke playlist and supplementary wine pairings by Wanderlust Wines are all on the menu.
StarChefs is promising further collaborations with Robin Gill (Darby’s), Olivia Burt (Stanley’s) and Ben Marks (Perilla), and a nice touch is a partnership with children’s charity, Adopt a School, which sends chefs into primary schools nationwide, to teach about the importance of food, health and nutrition.
Which leaves two questions. Does the saliva come in a bag of its own? And, given the chance, could my children hide it under a fork? I honestly can’t wait to find out.
£165 for a box for two, including nationwide delivery. Orders being taken now