The Hippo


Jul 4, 2020








Courtesy photo.

More lovely meals

If you’d rather go out, many restaurants offer special meals for Valentine’s Day. Visit, click “past issues,” click the icon for the Feb. 2 paper and flip to “Love Bites,” starting on p. 36, for suggestions.
Find a chef
Here are a few personal chefs who serve the southern New Hampshire area. Contact them to schedule a meal service on or around Valentine’s Day, or any time you want a special meal experience.
Olive Branch Personal Chef Service, Gabrielle Leone, 978-270-6862,, cooks romantic meals for two and has openings for Valentine’s Day as of press time.
Gluten Free Cooking with Oonagh, Oonagh Williams,, and Facebook, cooks for private dinner parties and couples but is booked for Valentine’s Day.
Anastasia’s Table, Patti Anastasia, 818-9991,, cooks and packages meals in advance for a week or a special occasion (not available on Valentine’s Day).
Dining By Design, Randy Brisson, 498-1634,, does dinner party catering and other special events. Call to discuss available dates.
• My Turn to Cook, Jennifer Buck, 746-6659,, cooks weekly meals and caters special events. Call to discuss available dates.
Welcome Home Chef Service, Sarah Hipple, 738-7701,, caters all kinds of special events (booked for Valentine’s Day; call to discuss available dates). 
MLC Catering, Darlene Towle, 767-5646,, caters all kinds of special events; she’s booked for Valentine’s Day, but call for other available dates.

Hire a personal chef
Enjoy a romantic meal by candlelight at home

By Ryan Lessard

 Instead of going out for a gourmet meal on Valentine’s Day, you could enjoy the same at home — without so much as setting foot in your kitchen.

“I never go out on Valentine’s because it’s always crowded and the food isn’t always good,” said Oonagh Williams, a personal chef and owner of Gluten Free Cooking with Oonagh, based in Merrimack.
Many personal chefs offer their services for special occasions like Valentine’s Day. Having a chef come to your home and make the food that night means you can get exactly what you want, says Gabrielle Leone, the owner and main chef of Olive Branch Personal Chef Service, based in Hampton.
“It’s a very customized service,” Leone said.
Clients work with the personal chefs to narrow down what foods they like and what foods they must avoid. The chef will float a few options by the clients until they settle on the meals they want. Leone said her services always include a three-course meal, with an appetizer, entree and dessert. 
Beyond taste and dietary restrictions, Williams suggests thinking ahead when settling on a menu item for Valentine’s Day to account for how you feel afterward.
“If you have too rich a dinner, nothing much is going to happen afterward,” Williams said. “Don’t have every course full of cream because it really is going to overload your stomach.”
The table setting and ambience can be arranged by the personal chefs for an additional fee of about $25, Leone said. 
“Usually … for the romantic dinners, the couples have chosen to set their own table, but it’s definitely something we’re capable of taking care of for them,” she said.
Williams said how much is done by a chef versus a client varies. 
“It really depends on your relationship with the client,” Williams said.
Another feature of having a personal chef is being able to interact with the chef and learn from them. 
While some clients are content to stay outside the kitchen while the chef works, others may want to learn a thing or two from a professional. 
“They can just watch the chef if they want,” Leone said. “It’s entertainment as well.”
Leone estimates the beginning price for a romantic dinner to be about $300. That’s about $100 for the food and $200 for the service. The average is about $350 to $400, she estimates.
Williams said she expects her romantic dinner service to cost about $200. 

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