As seen in The UP Coming, by Rosamund Kelby
For many chefs, the arrival of lockdown proved as fatal to their kitchen as a knife on a non-stick pan. But when One Fine Dine founder Daniel Hulme’s airborne private catering business was grounded along with flights, he saw the pandemic as an excuse to adapt his unique set of skills. According to the survival-savvy CEO, the move from planes to living rooms was a no-brainer: “For the past 11 years, I have been mastering a system that allows a flight attendant (with limited space and facilities) to deliver a dish at 35,000ft of the same standard as our chefs would serve it. This exclusive service is tried and tested, making it perfectly suited to home delivery.” And so, after years of cabin-based cookery, One Fine Dine landed, bringing high-end, high-altitude gastronomy to a nation in isolation.
What is it that differentiates Hulme’s offering from the increasing number of at-home restaurant menus? Well, unlike many Michelin-starred options, his meals are extremely quick to prepare, whilst still allowing for an immersive experience that encourages creativity. By removing the element of stress associated with the classic “DIY” kit, there is more room to express and enjoy oneself: “Our service is not only of superior quality and super easy; it also brings the added element of fun with our plating-up guides.” After trying a meal for ourselves, we were pleasantly surprised by just how simple the process was – it’s so accessible even the most aggressively oven-averse have no excuse. Every dish is accompanied by clear instructions to help apply finishing touches, and none take more than 15 minutes to cook. The best part of the prep, though, is trying your hand at refined presentation – from heritage carrots to honeycomb, the suggested placement is impeccable – and admittedly, taking a little pleasure in claiming the credit for yourself.
Once the plates have left the kitchen, it’s time to marvel at the real wonder, which is how food served up on your own crockery can taste quite so good. An evening of three courses and petit-fours runs like clockwork courtesy of some helpful videos and a team who function like a well-oiled machine behind the scenes: “Everything has to be precise – there is no room for error on our end. This carries through from the initial stages of creating each menu with our chefs and suppliers, to our logistics team, customer service and delivery drivers.” The attention to detail shows in the sheer quality of the hand-picked, globally-inspired plates, from the depth of flavour – the succulent Denham Vale Beef Wellington comes with a black truffle and thyme jus so shiny and rich it’s almost ostentatious – to the freshness of the ingredients – vegetarian highlights include purple florets of romanesque cauliflowers alongside vibrant, silky-smooth butternut squash. The produce is all sustainably sourced, from the Scottish salmon to the strawberries which pop from the plate alongside an indulgent chocolate sphere.
Indeed, Hulme is passionate about environmental impact; the entrepreneur confesses he drives his team “bananas” with his obsession for recyclable packaging. Having worked as a scuba instructor, he is all too aware of the damaging effect that plastics can have on our delicately balanced eco-system. Despite all his work, though, he is adamant that the industry has a way to go: “We need more companies to start demanding sustainable products, driving the demand so that we see more and more eco-friendly alternatives on the market.” He hopes to reduce his own company’s carbon footprint further with the development of 100% biodegradable containers and all-electric refrigerator vehicles – an expensive process but a price well worth paying, in his opinion.
Given limited restaurant capacity and the continuing caution of customers even as the restrictions lift, the age of luxury at-home dining, Hulme believes, is here to stay. This being the case, he is happy to offer up his own advice on how to elevate your One Fine Dine delivery and recreate the true restaurant experience at home. “Get dressed up! Use your best crockery and cutlery; take your time to get ready – you don’t have a taxi waiting outside. You don’t have the stress of getting back to the babysitter so put the kids in front of a movie, put your favourite soundtrack on and have a fun-filled evening at home”.