Need advice from fine dining chefs!

Joined Mar 13, 2018
So, I recently moved out of my home with my daughter because of problems with her dad, who is a fine dining chef... we just weren't getting along. There is still love there, and we are trying to work things out, so i want to prepare dinner for him that is more along the lines of what he creates every day in his kitchen. He's had extensive training and experience in Michelin rated restaurants in New York, and he is very passionate about the work he does. I want to do this to show that I take an interest in him. I understand I might be in over my head (I only have about 2 days to prepare at this point). I had originally enlisted the help of a chef friend a few weeks ago, but I've been having trouble getting in contact with him the last few days, and I really don't want to have to back out and cancel my plan to cook him a nice dinner.

Are there any fine dining chefs on this forum who can help me come up with a fairly easy recipe (for a person with no fine dining experience) that I would be able to recreate?

I want to come up with a salad, an entree, and a dessert. Keeping it pretty basic. I'm not trying to have 6-8 courses and overwhelm myself... I'm sure the 3 will be more than enough for me to handle as it is. I just don't know much about pairings and flavor profiles and palettes... and plating. I can make good down home southern food like my grandma any day of the week, but fine dining is a whole different animal entirely lol.

Thanks in advance for any help yall can give me! And whatever I end up making, I'll update yall on how it turned out!
Joined Feb 18, 2007
I don't know your situation, but I think a meal made with love and attention will taste wonderful. Fine dining is what he does, yes; but you don't want to recreate something he has on his menu; you are trying to show him you care about what he does. Fine dining isn't just about the food; it's about the experience - linen on the table, cloth napkins, nice plates, attentive service. You aren't going to be able to prepare the same kind of food he does, so I would say to do what you do well (a classic Southern menu, that isn't too heavy and can be reheated without any loss of quality (in case he is late or needs to reschedule). If you could afford it you could get something from a local caterer or restaurant to warm up if you wanted to make him something that is his favorite but you feel it is out of your range, but that depends on what it is.

Also, if you're looking to start a regular dinner kind of thing, you could get a magazine and make the menu that appears there. Each month you can make the menu, enlist your daughter to help if she is old enough, and even begin to grow in terms of what you can prepare....tell him what you've said here....
Joined Oct 1, 2006
Hi Ella,

Go with what you know!

Do something like putting dirty rice in a cookie cutter (ring mold) topped with small (3 oz pieces) of Blackened Catfish topped with a pinch of greens. (Like fresh Arugula, not Collards!) Drizzle Red eye Gravy around the perimeter.

Maybe not these exact food items, but things you have made before and know he likes. The idea is smaller pieces/portions stacked up! A little over simplified, but this will reduce your stress a little.

You did say 2 days right? Not the time to experiment.

Focus on the foods and flavors you already know. Then try to think of a different way of plating them more to look more like his presentations.

Same for desserts, can you make an individual size portion of something you already make?

Use a box of cake mix, divide the batter onto two cookie sheets! You will have two sheets of 1" thick cake to stack with. Bake for 12 minutes, use cookie cutters to cut. If you have three circle cutters or three triangle cutters you could go from small to large, like a little pyramid sort of thing. Or just cut squares and stack those.
Make a three layer individual dessert, use Jam or Nutella in between layers. Finish with dusting of powdered sugar for a fruit filling or a mix of powdered sugar and cocoa powder if a chocolate or Nutella filling.

Cover half of the dessert plate with a sheet of paper and dust with powdered sugar. Or make a simple paper snowflake and use that as a stencil.

He should really just appreciate the effort.
Joined Oct 31, 2012
I agree with do what you know. If he's a decent guy, he'll be thrilled and impressed you cooked. Even more if you do something from scratch that you know he likes.
I believe Love is a flavor. Love for cooking is an ingredient found in better restaurants. Love for the person being cooked for isn't the same ingredient but has a bigger impact. I make a professional, technically correct pot roast but it never comes out as good as my grandmothers Sunday pot roast was, even though I most likely use better ingredients and better technique. I love cooking, she loved me. Hers will always be better.
Some day there may be a scientific explanation for this but I hope I never hear about it. If you put your heart in to your cooking, you'll be fine.

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