Pandemic dining: How private chef's business went boom in lockdown

Avril Read from Sprowston has been a personal chef for 38 years.

Avril Read from Sprowston has been a personal chef for 38 years. - Credit: Chef 2 Dine 4

Imagine having a real fine dining experience in your own home - where all the cooking, serving and cleaning is taken care of by someone else.  

Sounds extravagant but according to private gourmet chef Avril Read city folk have taken to the high life during the pandemic. 

She said: “Being a self-employed chef during the pandemic was really hard, I had to refund all my deposits and bookings which totalled £6,500.  

“It wasn’t my money to keep, it wasn’t my customers' fault that Covid forced us into a lockdown.” 

Avril cooks the food of your choice without you ever having to leave your seat. 

Avril cooks the food of your choice without you ever having to leave your seat. - Credit: Chef 2 dine 4

So with the onset of the first lockdown, Avril, who has been a chef for 38 years, had to think out of the box.  

She started to offer drop offs which included dinner parties, afternoon teas, buffets and seafood platters.  

“All the drop-off food came with instructions on how to reheat the food,” she said.  

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“With restaurants forced to close, I saw the opportunity to expand my business even further and people really loved it.” 

Her business, Chef 2 Dine 4, was founded in 2007. She offers fine dining experiences for up to 65 people in and around Norwich. 

And finally now she is getting back to normal and cooking for big parties again. 

“We prepare and serve meals in people's own homes or at a location of their choice and include ingredients that are fresh, organic and sourced locally whenever possible," she said.  

Avril is able to cook in any venue of your choice. 

Avril is able to cook in any venue of your choice. - Credit: Chef 2 Dine 4

“Menus are suited to all tastes with breakfast lunch or dinner specifically tailored.” 

And although Norwich is blessed with high-end restaurants, Avril believes enjoying gourmet food at home is a special experience.  

“Hiring a personal chef whether it is in your own home or a venue of your choice can help to make any celebration more personal," Avril said.  

“I will always tailor the menu to your own requirements, we understand not everyone is the same. “ 

Chef 2 Dine 4 offers different menus to choose from to suit your celebration, or you can build your own menu. 

Chef 2 Dine 4 offers different menus to choose from to suit your celebration, or you can build your own menu. - Credit: Chef 2 Dine 4

  

And Avril added that she is open to suggesting for extra special occasions. 

All current availability and a booking form is available on the website: www.chef2dine4.co.uk 

A personal chef’s top five dishes... 

Beef Wellington is one of Avril's most favourite dishes to cook as it is a classic. 

Beef Wellington is one of Avril's most favourite dishes to cook as it is a classic. - Credit: Chef 2 Dine 4

1. Beef wellington 

Avril’s favourite dish is British staple beef wellington: “It’s always a favourite with guests and not many restaurants seem to serve this classic.” 

Avrils locally sourced seafood platters were a massive hit during lockdown. 

Avril's locally sourced seafood platters were a massive hit during lockdown. - Credit: Chef 2 Dine 4

2. Seafood platters  

“During lockdown these platters were very popular especially during the summer, I was also able to source all of the produce locally from Jonas Seafood, in Cromer.” 

Avril really enjoys putting together fish dishes for her guests. 

Avril really enjoys putting together fish dishes for her guests. - Credit: Chef 2 Dine 4

3. Fish Dishes.  

“Again, always popular and able to source from local fishmonger Howard and Sons, in Norwich.” 

Butternut squash and leek risotto made by Avril Read. 

Butternut squash and leek risotto made by Avril Read. - Credit: Chef 2 Dine 4

4. Butternut squash and leek risotto 

Sometimes veggie food can be underwhelming on a menu - but Avril has taken a a fresh twist: “A dish that requires little effort to prepare but looks amazing.” 

Toblerone Cheesecake made by Avril Read. 

Toblerone Cheesecake made by Avril Read. - Credit: Chef 2 Dine 4

5. Chocolate cheesecake  

“Everyone loves chocolate especially - Toblerone cheesecake which I make myself.” 

Avril will work with guests to ensure that it fits their dietary requirements.

Avril will work with guests to ensure that it fits their dietary requirements. Pictured: Pan fried scallops in dairy free sauce by Avril Read. - Credit: Chef 2 Dine 4

Special mention: Pan fried scallops with dairy free sauce  

“I try my hardest to cater for all dietary requirements, I like to serve everyone the same, but in a way that suits their restrictions. I pride myself on making the effort.” 

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