Pres­sure’s cook­ing over host­ing din­ner par­ties

En­ter­tain­ing has be­come a night­mare, writes DANIEL BATES

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

THE DEL­I­CATE bal­ance of do­ing the cook­ing and en­ter­tain­ing the guests has long vexed even the most well-or­gan­ised of hosts. But now, fu­elled by the rise of un­for­giv­ing TV shows such as Come Dine With Me, in which any food faux pas is cru­elly ex­posed by the guests, it seems that host­ing a din­ner party has be­come culi­nary night­mare.

Ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey, many of us now find that invit­ing friends round to share a meal is more stress­ful than the daily com­mute, see­ing the bank man­ager or even go­ing for a job in­ter­view.

Hosts are putting pres­sure on them­selves to cook at the level of Miche­lin star chefs af­ter see­ing fel­low din­ers and ex­perts sav­age one an­other’s food in re­al­ity TV shows such as the BBC’s Mas­ter chef and Come Dine With Me on Chan­nel 4.

Some are even re­sort­ing to un­der­hand tac­tics – 16 per­cent have cheated with the cook­ing and not told guests, with one in five men ad­mit­ting to buy­ing in food and pass­ing it off as their own cook­ing.

The re­search found that 24 per­cent of the 1 007 peo­ple ques­tioned thought that host­ing a din­ner party was more stress­ful than go­ing to a job in­ter­view.

About 44 per­cent claimed that it in­duced more anx­i­ety than see­ing the bank man­ager, while 57 per­cent said it stressed them out more than com­mut­ing to work. Top­ping of the list of con­cerns for ner­vous hosts is that fear that the dishes will go wrong (36 per­cent), fol­lowed by the guests not en­joy­ing them­selves at (33 per­cent).

‘TV pro­grammes don’t help be­cause they make things look very easy when, in re­al­ity, we all know the chef is putting to­gether the few fi­nal el­e­ments’

De­spite the stress, din­ner par­ties can still prove to be en­joy­able and event­ful evenings – par­tic­u­larly for the men.

Eleven per­cent of the males ques­tioned in the sur­vey for Af­ter Eight chooco­late mints had met their part­ner at a din­ner party.

And 15 per­cent had se­cured a job, com­mit­ted to a busi­ness deal or changed ca­reer as a con­se­quence of a din­ner party.

Sup­per club host Jim Haynes, who es­ti­mates that he has hosted up to 130 000 peo­ple for din­ner over 30 years, said: “Peo­ple shouldn’t stress when host­ing friends for din­ner. In this age of mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion and mass move­ment, it’s im­por­tant to bring peo­ple to­gether. The key is to have a nice en­vi­ron­ment and guests who want to be there.”

Sara Gyn­gell, who co-founded the Sur­rey Hills Cook­ery School in Leather­head, Sur­rey, said: “If you are go­ing to do a proper din­ner party then it will prob­a­bly take an en­tire day to pre­pare for, so that might well be longer than a job in­ter­view.

“Putting on a num­ber of cour­ses is stress­ful and I’m not sur­prised so many peo­ple find it hard to cope.

‘The TV pro­grammes don’t help be­cause they are very crit­i­cal and they make things look very easy when, in re­al­ity, we all know the veg­eta­bles have been prepped be­fore­hand and the chef is putting to­gether the few fi­nal el­e­ments.

“My ad­vice would be to make things very sim­ple and have a straight­for­ward dish that peo­ple will like such as good old shep­herd’s pie and serve it at the kitchen ta­ble.

“Peo­ple are so busy th­ese days, they do not have time to slave over a hot stove for an en­tire day,” said Gyn­gell. – Daily Mail

FOOD PO­LICE: TV Shows like Come Dine With Me have added to the stress of host­ing a din­ner party.

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