Monday, February 28, 2011

A 30th birthday surprise

Clefoodgoddess and I are close friends in real life. This past weekend, she turned 30. Due to a massive scheduling conflict and oversight on my part, N, Dave and Jess ended up having plans on Clefoodgoddess' birthday; specifically, we had tickets to Playhouse Square's Jump Back Ball 20 (more on that in the next post). Since we were going to miss her actual birthday, I decided that we had to come up with a super special gift. Something that she would absolutely love, and make her day truly spectacular. Since she has a food blog, my first thoughts went to some sort of experience with one of Cleveland's amazing chefs.

I tried getting Clefoodgoddess and her fiance a seat at the Chef's table at Lola, with a tasting menu. (This is an option if you would like to gift it to someone; call Lola for details). Of course, Lola gets booked up weeks in advance, especially on a Friday or Saturday night, and especially when its restaurant week. My only options were either a 5:30 table or a 8:45 table. Either would've worked, but since it was a weekend, they would be sharing the Chef's table with other diners. A solid option, but I decided to do some more exploring.

I thought back to my own 30th birthday in July, and the fabulous meal N and I enjoyed at L'Albatros. On a whim, I shot them an email inquiring about their Chef's table, and received an almost-immediate response from Sommelier Brandon Chrostowski. As I told him about my idea for a special culinary experience, he recommended an experience that they had previously created for another diner; an experience in the kitchen itself, followed by dinner at the restaurant. DING DING DING!!! I knew we had a winner.

The plan was this: With fiance's help, we were going to keep this whole experience a surprise. Fiance would drive a blindfolded Clefoodgoddess to L'Albatros around 3 pm. The blindfold would be lifted, and she would then spend a couple of hours in the kitchen, experiencing life behind-the-scenes. She would be given an apron and a knife, and put to work! After that, she and fiance would enjoy dinner at the restaurant. I requested that the staff sign her apron and hand it to her as a souvenier, and Brandon was more than happy to oblige. What do you know?? Things went EXACTLY according to plan. In fact, the experience went above and beyond plan, in that Chef Bruell HIMSELF handed Clefoodgoddess her apron!!

I can't say enough positive things about the staff at L'Albatros. They were an absolute delight to work with. Its not everyday that you can go from idea to plan to execution so easily, and it was in very large part due to the fabulous staff, and of course Clefoodgoddess' fiance, who helped coordinate the surprise. In all seriousness, if you're looking to plan an important and/or special event, I highly recommend that you consider L'Albatros as your location. I can tell you from experience, if you're looking for flawless execution, they certainly know how to deliver!!!


Bite Buff said...

Aww, what an awesome gift for a foodie!

Alana said...

You're such a great friend! That sounds awesome.

Heather said...

We need to become better friends........want to hang out this weekend?? :)
Great gift!!

Allison M. said...

Brandon and his team kicks some major ass. I love their cheese, the atmosphere and I can't wait to sit on the patio in the spring/summer.