A masterclass on how to host the perfect dinner party, here you can learn the tricks used to provide Michelin-starred hospitality.
First: to make sure polished cutlery shimmers, spray it beforehand with a solution that is one half water and one half white vinegar - “the cheaper the white vinegar is the better.” Second: to properly iron table cloths, don’t invest in an expensive steam iron. Instead, buy a simple, durable iron that has a smooth, imperforated base and spritz the cloth with water from a separate spray can. The bases of steam irons can become encrusted with granules of calcified hard water, meaning ironed fabric can be streaked or isn’t as smooth as possible.
It may sound obvious but a dinner party with grandiose additions can overwhelm guests. If placing flowers in the dining space ensure their fragrance doesn’t suffocate the smell of the food and wine being served; if adding a centrepiece to a table ensure it doesn’t block diners’ views of their companions.
Instead, concentrate on the components that are often overlooked. Serve two or three types of bread rather than just one; offer a choice between salted and unsalted butter; buy cheap bundles of mint so you can offer fresh mint tea along with coffee.
Attention to detail is also crucial and using the “rule of the one finger” method; it simply means that when setting the table ensure there’s a finger’s width between each piece of cutlery and plate. Wearing white cotton gloves to ensure you don’t smudge the forks and knives. Setting up a table is all about the alignment. Everything is parallel or perpendicular, but always in line.
The host should share knowledge about the dishes being served – make sure you know the ingredients’ provenance and be able to explain why they work together; keep spare cutlery and china in a sideboard or a console in the dining room to prevent disruptive return visits to the kitchen; consult your wine merchant about what drinks to serve with your planned dishes, and make sure guests’ glasses are kept topped up.
Whatever hosting procedures you routinely put in place, it seems one of the most important tenets of hospitality is to do whatever it takes to ensure your guests leaves happy.
A very Happy New Year and may 2014 bring enjoyable moments to look back upon.
Chantal & Richard
365 Linen Hire - For catering linen hire across Dorset, Hampshire, Somerset and Wiltshire. Based in Salisbury