Organising the perfect dinner party can seem daunting, especially for the inexperienced. Which is why Chic-Londres has asked hospitality expert Fred Sirieix -manager of Michelin-starred Galvin at Windows, co-host of Michel Roux’ Service show on BBC2 and now London’s first dedicated dinner party “concierge”- to give us his top 10 tips.
1. Choose elegant but plain crockery – patterns on your plates will only distract from your delicious food! A trick from the restaurant trade is to choose big white plates and ensure that they aren’t overfilled, to make food look its most appetising.
2. Add some colour with place mats and napkins. Flowers are always a good choice for a centre piece for the dinner table, but there’s nothing worse than having to negotiate a tall vase to have a conversation with the person opposite you. Cut your flowers short and put in a small vase or even a jam jar. Or display fruit in a glass vase as a bright alternative.
3. Hosting a dinner party can be stressful, there’s a lot to think about, but there are ways to take the pressure off so you can enjoy yourself too. Firstly, consider entertaining on a Friday. This forces you to be really organised in the week, your guests will arrive excited for the weekend, and once you’ve cleaned up on Saturday you’ll have the rest of the weekend free to relax!
4. Try and limit yourself to one course that needs to be prepared last minute. Soups and sauces can be prepared days in advance, and even frozen and defrosted on the day. Choose a main course that can be prepared in advance; casseroles and stews often taste better if left overnight and reheated.
6. It’s not just about the food at dinner parties, the atmosphere can make all the difference. Dim your lights, or use floor and table lamps for a softer effect, and unscented votive candles or tea lights to add some atmosphere.
7. Put together a playlist to play in the background, at a quiet level that allows for conversation. Mellow, softer sounds work best and will make everyone feel relaxed.
8. In the event of a kitchen disaster, ensure that you have some store cupboard essentials on standby to whip up an alternative. Have some ready made pastry, and good quality cheese and onions to hand to whip up an onion tart for starter or main course. And some fresh fruits will transform your pastry in to a delicious tart for dessert.
9. There’s always a guest that turns up early, when you’re in the middle of something! Make them comfortable with a drink, or even get them involved with choosing some music.
10. And be a relaxed host! You’ll set the tone for the evening. If anything goes wrong, laugh it off; it’s not the end of the world, and in all likelihood your guests won’t even notice.”
For more tips and recipes visit Maille Concierge. As part of the dedicated one-on-one service, Fred is able to advise on everything from menu design, food and wine pairings, presenting a beautiful dish or a show-stopping table, to entertaining guests, catering for fussy diners and creating the ideal atmosphere.