DON’T experiment on your dinner guests. They aren’t lab rats. I am amazed that contestants on Master Chef prepare a dish they’ve never cooked before. Why? Feeding people should be a pleasure, not a hair pulling, high blood pressure inducing nightmare.
DO choose food that you can make ahead of time. What is the point of a host spending all the time in the kitchen whilst missing the banter?
DON’T serve plonk to your guests. If you are buying the ‘three for a tenner’ deal then make damned sure you know what you’re buying. What is the point of a lovingly made boeuf Bourguignon served up with a bottle of cheap Merlot. It’s like taking out a loaf of bread from the oven and spreading margarine on it. You just wouldn’t.
DO plan your menu carefully. Three courses aren’t randomly chosen. They need to compliment one another. You wouldn’t put on a cocktail dress, a show stopping necklace and finish it off with a scrunchy.
DON’T be ignorant of the tastes and culture of your guests. I’ve experienced the irritation of finding out that a male friend omitted to tell me that the new woman in his life was a vegetarian.
DO cheat without a shred of guilt. No one gets points for trying hard. Buy that sumptuous desert from the French patisserie.
DON’T hope your guests will get on with each other. You can produce a spectacular eight course tasting menu and it’ll all be for nothing because your guests would rather be dining with suicide bombers than be round your table. I’ve said it time and time again. I would rather be in a greasy spoon with pals then in The Fat Duck with blithering idiots.
DO show off by making some of your own truffles, raspberry vodka or a spicy chutney. It’s a really nice touch and just a way of saying that you love your pals. It’s also a really good way of showing off.