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Here is a step by step guide to hiring a cook during your stay in Puglia.
Before you leave
1. If having a cook is an important requirement, inform your pre-departure manager making sure this service is available at your chosen villa (see the "amenities" table of your villa).
2. If available at the property in question, decide when and how many times you require the services of a cook.
3. Inform your pre-departure manager of your requirements as soon as possible before your departure, letting him/her know of any special dietary requirements, i.e. allergies, people who don't eat meat, shellfish, etc. Remember the food will be traditional Puglian cuisine. It may be possible to hire the cook for further meals while you are in Puglia but this will depend on availability.
4. You can expect a 4-course meal consisting of antipasti, a pasta dish, a second course and a dessert. To give you an idea of the kind of things you may eat, please look at our recipe page. What is sure is that the ingredients will be whatever is available fresh when you are there (Puglian cuisine follows the seasons rigorously and no two days’ fishing catches are the same!). General preferences such as meat or fish will be communicated to the cooks and if you have a particular favourite dish, we will try to accommodate you where possible.
NB This service is subject to the availability of our cooks. We cannot, therefore, guarantee it will always be possible to organise. Cooks should be paid directly, both for ingredients (receipts will be provided) and for the service.
Once in Puglia
This is an example of how things will typically work. Our cooks are all local people who might have been working with the owners of the properties for years (sometimes it's the owners themselves!), and each will have his or her unique way of doing some things. This is part of the charm of this very Puglian experience.
1. On the day, the cook will do all the necessary food shopping. You will be responsible for choosing and buying your own wine (this often being a very personal choice).
2. On arrival at the villa, the cook will present the receipts for the shopping. At this time it is opportune to settle the whole bill, i.e. reimburse the cost of the food and pay the cook for his/her services as agreed with The Thinking Traveller before departure.
3. The cook may prepare the entire meal at the villa (in which case will be present for several hours) or prepare some of the food at home (depending on the type of dish). Please ensure that the kitchen is clean and ready for the cook when he/she arrives.
4. The cook will lay the table (he/she may bring an assistant). If you have paid for extra service then the cook will bring out and serve the food. If you have opted for no extra service, the cook will bring the food out and you will serve yourselves.
5. Whilst you are eating, the cook will clean the kitchen and wash up all pans, utensils, etc. that he/she has used.
6. If you have paid for extra service, the cook will do all the washing up (this may involve stacking the dishwasher where available). If you have opted for no extra service, the cook will leave after you have received dessert, and washing-up of plates, cutlery and glasses etc. will be your responsibility.