I had the divine pleasure of recently meeting Chef Lisa Pattman for a private five course Italian dinner at my parents' home in Summit, NJ (thank you, Kels). Chef Pattman is a caterer and private chef who has been in the food business for more than 10 years. Throughout her career, she has worked at the Food Network with chefs Mario Batali, Sara Moulton, and Emeril Lagasse to name a few. In the last few years, Chef Pattman has focused on her own catering and private chef business, where she attends dinner parties and teaches those lucky guests how to cook. She has recently been written up in the New York Times and featured on the Real Housewives of New Jersey. We were lucky to book Chef Pattman on her only available evening this summer.
Chef Pattman arrived promptly with her sous chef Esther. The pair could not have been more professional or fun. They quickly made themselves at home in my parents' kitchen and went to work giving us tricks of the trade and taking us through the different steps in each recipe. The end result was a tasty five course sit down dinner paired with wine.
The menu was as follows:
- Orzo fagiole
- Mixed organic greens with candied pecans and shaved parmesan drizzled with a homemade vinaigrette (shallots, olive oil, sherry wine vinegar, and a secret ingredient--mayonnaise--used to emulsify the dressing)
- Farro mushroom risotto
- Osso bucco with beef (and delicious bone marrow to slurp)
- Homemade tiramisu
The evening was absolutely delicious. It was the perfect balance of hands on cooking mixed with the indulgence of being wined and dined in the comfort of your own home. We were able to participate as we wanted and often helped prep the food and learned techniques, such as the proper way to hold a knife and the safe and effective way to chop an onion.
Here are a few other tricks of the trade that Chef Pattman had to offer:
- Never cook with salted butter, always use unsalted butter and taste as you go, adding more salt as needed
- When using any sort of broth, Chef Pattman recommends using low sodium so you can control the salt levels
- Chef Pattman suggests using a cracked pepper mill when adding pepper as it has a fresher flavor than the already-cracked variety
- Try using farro for risotto instead of arborio rice, farro has more fiber and a nice nutty flavor
- When making soup ahead of time, add a rind of parmesan and let it sit in the soup for at least a day--it adds a nice flavor (anchovies and clam broth are nice additions as well)
- Always read a recipe all the way through--no one likes surprises
I would highly recommend hiring Chef Pattman for your next special dinner party. She and her team were professional, knowledgeable, and excellent chefs. Chef Pattman's fee is about $35-45 a person and includes food and clean up. Wine is not included, but Chef Pattman is happy to provide recommendations.