Friends aren’t quite won and lost at the dinner table, but mastering the art of throwing a dinner party is something we can all achieve! You might be looking to show off some new cooking skills or christen a new dining room, so if you’re in need of some tips to guide you through the key steps to putting on the perfect feast, look no further. From creating the perfect ambience to ensuring you cook up a storm for your guests, here’s how to impress your guests and keep the evening stress-free.
Make sure you’re comfortable with your recipes
It’s tempting to dream up making a bold statement with your cooking efforts by serving a centrepiece dish with some real ‘wow’ factor, but careful you don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you opt for a complex dish, which you haven’t attempted before, the margin for error is much finer and you could end up with an unwelcome disaster on your hands – that first attempt at beef Wellington won’t seem so enticing when your pastry’s soggy and your meat’s raw! Even for the most proficient home cooks, it’s a good idea to have a trial run to ensure you know the method. The extras stresses and excitement of the actual dinner party are another factor which could affect your meal’s success. A simple, perfectly-executed classic, made with the best ingredients you can source, will often go down a treat.
Take dietary requirements into consideration
From vegetarianism and veganism, to specific intolerances and allergies, it’s crucial to check with all your guests to ensure you’re aware of any dietary requirements they may have. If there are guests with specific requirements, incorporate these into your main meal plans, rather than giving them an alternative option. This way you’ll be challenged into putting all your efforts into the dish, rather than being distracted by multiple options. Don’t be put off by the idea of serving vegetarian or vegan dishes to all of your guests – there’s a wealth of recipes and styles of cooking which won’t sacrifice on flavour or character. Thai food, for example, often packs a flavoursome punch in the absence of meat.
Once you know how many guests you’ll be entertaining, you’ll need to plan timings and maybe make some alterations to your menu. You’ll no doubt require plenty of hob space and oven space, so work out your timings for each element of your dishes. This will then serve as a guideline for each dish so you don’t need to constantly refer back to recipes in the heat of the moment. Explore our range of cooking appliances with a range of innovative features, from large capacity ovens to wi-fi connectivity and professional sous-vide functions.
Do your preparation
Once your timing is all planned, be sure to do some kitchen preparation. Make sure everything is clean and your worktops are tidy and clear. Then set all the utensils you’ll need to the side. In professional kitchens, ‘mise en place’ (meaning everything in its place) is crucial to service running smoothly and the same principle applies at home. Have all your ingredients at the ready and prepared before you start cooking – this means dicing onions, measuring spices etc. You’ll save time and stress, and you won’t forget any key ingredients!
Nail the presentation
Food is, of course, mainly about the taste, but the visual aspect and first impressions are also a huge part of eating. First of all, crockery acts as a backdrop to your food so experiment with patterns, textures and colours. Lighter plates can highlight vibrant, colourful ingredients, whereas darker plates are good for lighter food. When plating up your food position each ingredient with care and if you’re feeling adventurous, try playing around with contrasting colours and symmetry.