Picture this: you’ve invited all your closest friends over for dinner. You’ve spent all week planning the perfect menu, and the time has finally come to deliver.

Everyone mingles in the kitchen, offering assistance before being shooed away with a plate of nibbles. The comforting smell of a golden, warm loaf fresh from the oven fills the room along with a chorus of oohs and aahs.

Finally, you present everyone with the main course. Excited babbles of anticipation fall into contented silence as everyone delights in each mouthful. Everybody goes home full of delicious, homecooked food and the nostalgic feeling of fond memories.

There’s nothing quite like the anticipation of waiting for someone to tuck into something you’ve made, just for them. And now that the end of lockdown restrictions is almost in sight, this glorious image can once again become a reality. Dinner parties are back on the menu!

Serve it up

We know it’s been a while, but with long evenings and clear skies on the horizon, now is the perfect time to dust off the ‘fancy plates’ ready to welcome friends and family back into our homes (or gardens!) for some great food and even better times.

Although the recipe for a successful dinner party doesn’t rely on the food alone, food is obviously the main event (and good food is made to be shared!). We all love to show off our specialities and personal favourites, but why not try something different? With summer now in full swing, there’s no shortage of recipes to choose from, and there are many sumptuous seasonal ingredients to make the most of.

Ripe, sun-blushed vine tomatoes — slow-cooked and blistering — paired with a rosemary and parmesan shortbread make a mouth-watering canapé. For a smoky and delicious main course, try silky lamb rump with burnt aubergine purée, artichokes and tomato and chilli chutney. You could even challenge yourself to make dessert from scratch: white chocolate mousse with a strawberry sorbet is sweet yet refreshing and guaranteed to impress your guests.

And if you don’t fancy preparing a sit-down meal, why not get your guests involved?

There’s something fun about preparing and eating food with your own hands. Make-your-own-pizza evenings always go down a treat, especially when catering for different dietary preferences and requirements. All you need to do is prepare the dough and pizza sauce and set aside some space for everyone to get stuck in. You can even cook your pizza on the BBQ — yes, really — for a truly authentic al fresco dining experience on warm summer evenings.

A night to remember

If the events of the past year have taught us anything, it’s the value of being able to eat good food with the people we care about. There’s something so visceral, so intrinsically human about cooking and eating with the people we love. And we think we can all agree — cooking for ourselves in lockdown wasn’t quite as satisfying as putting on a delicious spread that our friends and family rave about for years to come.

In the last year, we’ve also come to appreciate the luxury of eating out and the skill involved in preparing high-quality meals. But there’s always room to up your game in the kitchen, so why not bring the fine-dining experience to your own home? From sumptuous savoury courses to delectable desserts, there’s nothing better than seeing people’s eyes light up with pleasant surprise when you pull off a truly special dish.

Whether it’s through unusual ingredients, technical skill or pure culinary deliciousness, who doesn’t want to bring that wow factor to their next dinner party? Plus, what better way is there to celebrate reuniting with loved ones than by going that extra mile to whip up something no one’s tried before?

And if you’re feeling a little panicked at the thought of entertaining again, don’t worry. After over a year without hosting, it’s natural to feel a bit rusty. Preparing for a dinner party can overwhelm even the most experienced hosts, with countless recipes available and almost militarily precise timings required. But no matter your skill level or experience, anyone can host a dinner party to remember with just a little help, guidance and inspiration…

In need of a refresher ahead of your next dinner party? Join us for our Dinner Party cookery course, where you’ll perfect your skills and add a few fail-safe yet delicious recipes to your repertoire that’ll impress your guests every time.