Pressure’s cooking over hosting dinner parties
Entertaining has become a nightmare, writes DANIEL BATES
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.