The Joy of Private Dining – Scott Spencer – Private Chef for All

Time melts away as the once decorative taper candles puddle their souls to light the moments where friendships form and flourish.  The wedding gifted Saint Louis Crystal is finally filled with the 1999 Bryant Family Cabernet Sauvignon.   The Christofle glimmers with joy to see the world outside of its velvet lined box.  Without the worries of tables turning over or the white noise of chattering strangers, lavish but intimate dinner parties are a rare luxury between friends.  It’s a time to enjoy wine, food and the freedom to languish in each other’s company.

Yet what prevents most of these gatherings is the chore of crafting suitable dishes for such an event.  Caterers often require more than 12 people and the costs and clean up required of bringing a reputable chef into your home are often outweighed by the ease of just going to their namesake restaurant.  Many people lack a sous vide machine or proper All-Clad or Nitrogen so it’s difficult for the host to execute and enjoy the party.  Potlucks are pedestrian.   Besides you rationalize, you’d like an occasion to go out in your new Yves Saint Laurent Le Smoking jacket.

However, private chef Scott Spencer is making intimate Michelin starred dining available and accessible to all.   He was born and raised in Oakland.  California Culinary Academy trained, he’s put in the blood, sweat and tears at Michelin starred places like Boulevard, Aqua and Spruce.  He left the trenches of the line and struck it out on his own after a simple article left with 63 requests to come over their home and be the spark of their dinner party.

Simply put, it’s 6 courses for $75 per person and he requires 6 diners with a maximum of 12 to ensure quality and control over his craft.  He takes suggestions and obviously food allergies but works the best when allowed full creative reign.  Give him the theme of over-the-top and he’ll come back with seared scallops, truffled creamless cream of mushroom soup, uni gnocchi, a 12 hour long sous vide sirloin cap and a deconstructed snickers bar.  He has worked in every extreme from tiny studio apartments to marquee homes in the Marina and everything in between.    He plates, serves and cleans up all by himself.  He is an army of one.   

Scott Spencer is the catalyst for conversation.   You can hear the passion in his voice as he explains each speck or drop on the plate.   Why each sings its note in his composition and where it comes from.  The tiny bacon bits are from a piece of the Iberico ham hock he smuggled in some luggage after a trip to Spain.  The toy carrots and micro beet greens are from his own organic garden and the corn is picked the day of the dinner from his friend’s garden.   But like any typical true chef (not the kind peddling cookware at K-mart), he’s reticent and reserved.   You can see how he feels the most comfortable in the kitchen and in the garden.   He travels around all week collecting the freshest ingredients from his friends and local purveyors like Marin Sun Farms to Snake River Farms (a Keller favorite).  He welcomes any interested to observe his efficient motions in the kitchen.  Learn how squeeze bottles, chopsticks and the flat back of a spoon are essentials tools to any plating perfectly.

As the holiday season approaches, he is an excellent resource to prevent family squabbles.   However, be forewarned, he’s often booked up to 3 months in advance for weekends and holidays.

Scott Spencer