Photo: Talyn Sherer
I first met Hossein Dadkhah and Shahrzad Jalili a few years ago when they invited me to a Persian pop-up restaurant that they held at Meditrina. Their commitment to bringing a genuine Iranian cultural experience to Salt Lake was impressive. I remember distinctly feeling that I was no longer in Salt Lake but had been transported to turn-of-the-century Iran. Creating a cultural experience that makes attendees feel as if they are visiting a different country is something that Jalili and Dadkhah have turned into a concept called Dinner at Yours. It’s their love letter to Persian cuisine and culture, which they bring right to the customer’s home. “The best table in town is your own,” Dadkhah says.
While the process of having professional chefs come to diners’ homes to prepare dinner for them and their guests has been popular for the past few years, Dinner at Yours sets itself apart because of Dadkhah’s attention to detail. When you book a chef from Dinner at Yours, you’re not only having someone lift the burden of preparing a home-cooked meal; you’re also transforming your dining room into a high-class Persian restaurant. Chefs provide all of the flatware, cutlery and glasses, which they prepare as part of an inviting table arrangement, and they’ll even bring along some authentic Persian music to completely set the mood.
The effort that goes into preparing the dining space is also reflected in the food itself. No matter what kind of culinary hardware you’re packing in your kitchen, the chefs of Dinner at Yours can create something that is consistently beautiful. “It doesn’t get any more authentic,” Dadkhah says. “This cuisine is in the blood of your chef.” It’s also a cuisine that has been around for centuries, which has given it time to evolve into an extremely diverse culinary perspective. According to Dadkhah, a person could explore Iran from top to bottom and never get the same meal twice. With such variety, it’s difficult to distill Persian cuisine into one sentence. “It uses a variety of ingredients to create an experience far greater than each individual ingredient,” Dadkhah says.
As I spoke to Dadkhah about the intricacies of Persian food, the aromas from Jalili’s preparation began to fill the kitchen. As a registered dietician, she strives to create menus that provide a balanced meal. “The recipes are those that my grandma and mom used,” she says. “When I’m planning the menu, I make sure all of the food groups are present and balanced.” While I may be a little bit partial to Sharhzad, all of the Dinner at Yours chefs have gone through a rigorous training process. “It doesn’t matter which chef you get,” Dadkhah says. “You’ll always get a consistent dinner.”
Dinner at Yours offers a rotating menu based on what ingredients are in season. Their food is locally sourced as much as possible, and they offer meals to accommodate any dietary restrictions that customers might have. We accepted their recommendation of the Barberry Rice and Chicken, a four-course meal that offered a beautiful culinary snapshot of Persian culture.
The first course was a Creamy Barley Soup with a Fresh Herb Sandwich. The soup was warm and earthy with a slight citrus aftertaste. It paired well with the sandwich, which was a spiral of buttery bread layered with cream cheese and fresh, minced herbs that helped cleanse the palate for the main course. Between courses, we were served a cool and refreshing cucumber beverage that was a straightforward combination of simple syrup, water and minced cucumber. Before the main course hit our table, the floral smell of saffron and rosewater filled the room—fragrance is as much a part of the presentation as are the food’s arrangement and flavor. It was a gorgeous plate that featured a quarter chicken, a Shirazi salad served inside a carved pepper and fluffy rice topped with barberries, dried berries that are more savory than sweet. Altogether, this meal was a fantastic composition of complementary flavors. The rice was prepared with a bit of rosewater, which enhanced the saffron seasoning of the chicken. Between bites, the Shirazi salad—packed with cucumbers, tomatoes and onions with a vinegary dressing—was an excellent way to reset our flavor palates. Dessert kept the flavors of rosewater and saffron alive with ice cream that combined both flavors with crushed pistachios. Each bite made me consider the thought that went into this meal. Each course had its own flavors and perspective, but all of them contributed to a series of complementary sensations that made the entire meal more satisfying.
The Dinner at Yours experience is definitely memorable—something that diners should consider when they want a unique and delicious meal without having to leave their homes. While the chef makes sure to erase the remnants of the dinner from the kitchen and dining room, the experience continues to linger—like the scent of saffron in the air. For more information, visit dinneratyours.com, or look for them on Facebook. You can also find them at the Craft Lake City 8th Annual DIY Festival , where they will cater the VIP patio.