The subject line read “Romantic Dinner for Three.”
It probably wasn’t the most unusual query Chef Anna Harouvis ever received judging by her hush-hush list of celebrity and professional sports clients, but it was a first for my husband, Chris, and I. For nearly 20 years, it’s just been the two of us and only recently we brought a third person into the relationship. Her name is Kinley and she is our adopted daughter, a sweet, kind, beautiful and intelligent toddler who has brightened our days since she came into our lives back in June.
Coming up upon our milestone wedding anniversary just two months later, it didn’t feel right to exclude her. Instead of getting a babysitter and going out to dinner, we brought the chef home to cook for us. Harouvis, the creator of Anna in the Raw, was the perfect fit with her focus on true organic, clean cooking and — come to find out — a soft spot for children and animals. She herself has two sibling dwarf rabbits that she fears may be well on their way of producing an incestuous colony.
After going over food allergies and my husband’s celiac diagnosis, Anna gave us several options for the five-course gluten-free dinner, all of which sounded amazing. Ultimately we asked her to surprise us, with one exception. The dessert would have to be her flourless chocolate cake.
She arrived on our doorstep at the kid-friendly time of 5 p.m. with a box full of colorful vegetables, pre-made soup, dip, sauces and Chilean sea bass bathed in a gluten-free miso marinade. A live chef beats mail-order meals in a box any day.
It’s clear that Harouvis is comfortable in the kitchen, even an unfamiliar one. While I poured her a glass of wine, she threw open cupboards to grab the pots, pans, trays, and utensils she would need to prepare her creation. In no time, the burners were blazing, and the oven was warming her fresh-baked gluten-free bread, something she has perfected over time. “Gluten-free bread needs to be toasted,” she said. “It just tastes better that way.”
Pulling it out of the oven, she paired the warm bread with pea caviar, which had a consistency of hummus. Even though, I had assured the chef that my daughter is an adventurous eater — even more so than I am — my two-year-old spit out the caviar as soon as it hit her tongue. We breathed a sigh of relief when we had better luck with the apple and squash coconut soup, following by the arugula and feta salad with dried cranberries and a scratch strawberry balsamic dressing.
By the time the chef plated the sea bass with vegetables over a bed of the smoothest sweet potato purée I’ve ever had, we were already getting full. “I’m Greek,” Harouvis says. “I always make lots of food.” Chris and I managed to eat the whole thing, but Kinley only had a few bites. She was full, but not too full for dessert.
Harouvis gave Kinley the can of whipped cream and had her put the finishing touches on the quickly devoured flourless chocolate cake. My daughter even helped clean up after dinner. “Wow, she’s even better than some of the people who have worked for me,” laughed Harouvis, while Kinley scrubbed a baking sheet while perched on the counter.
Often times I try to imagine the career path my child will eventually take. Aeronautical engineer ranks high on the list, but she likes to help mommy cook, too. “Oh, don’t go into the restaurant business,” warns Harouvis. “It’s hard work.”
Now that her work is finally done, the chef heads out the door. It’s only 7:15 p.m., but it’s time to start our nighttime routine. Before you know it, the three of us are in bed and two of us are fast asleep by 8 o’clock. Then our daughter woke me up to finish reading her favorite book.
After all the wine and food I consumed, I’m definitely going to need some of Anna in the Raw’s juices in the morning to get me going. Luckily, before she headed out, Harouvis stocked the fridge with an assortment.
Do you want Anna Harouvis to cook for you? Get in touch her at AnnaintheRaw.com.