Transforming your dinner party into a Michelin-star restaurant experience

If you're planning to spend quite a bit of money on treating your guests to quality food and wine at a dinner party then it is worth ensuring that the entire experience is of a high standard too. From the décor to your crockery there are small but effective things you can do to transform your dinner party into your very own Michelin-star restaurant experience.
While your food and wine will definitely be the decider on the success of your party, creating the right environment in which to serve your dishes can ensure that your guests will remember it for time to come.
Paying close attention to your décor can also work to create the right mood of your dinner party, reminding your guests that the meal is more than just getting friends round for supper.
Jo Pratt, the food director for What Food, What Wine? has imparted her advice on how to transform your home for a dinner party without going all out and renovating the entire space.
She suggests bringing in little elements to the room rather than going out and buying lots of fancy things.
"Keep candles and flowers low on the table so you can still see people," she recommends. "Keep the lighting subtle - never go for full-on bright lights."
If you are revolving the meal around a theme then a few elements for the table that reflect the theme will add a nice touch.
For an Asian meal, for example, Jo suggests buying banana leaves from an Asian supermarket and cutting them into rectangular shapes for little placemats.
"Even just some bamboo matt or orchid flowers for the table - keep it all very delicate looking, perhaps with some night lights, to bring that oriental theme in," she remarked.
If you are going Italian, then a red roll of cloth down the table and extras like salt and pepper pots and baskets of bread will create an effective rustic theme.
Music is also an important thing to think about in order to create the right ambiance. Your own experience of dining out will show the dos and don'ts of music. How often are you in a restaurant where the music is so loud you can't have a conversation?
Jo recommends nice, subtle music: "Nothing too loud and banging in the background like rave music! Also you don't want the music to be too slow, as people could get sleepy, and try to keep the volume at the right level so people can still hear each other."
Of course, it is vital to ensure that the food and wine are the most important aspects of your dinner party. Jo explained that in order to have food and wine that pairs well from course to course, preparation is key.
This is why creating a theme could be a good idea, certainly as a starting point, as you can decide on each course based on the theme. This, the expert says, makes it easier to match wines to the courses and also takes away the instant worry of not knowing where to start from.
"Pick dishes that you're familiar with, that you've tried before and are not going to be under too much pressure with," she advises.
"When it comes to choosing the wines to go with that, if you're not sure always ask for advice."
As for your budget, Jo highlights the importance of having a cost limit in mind right from the start, particularly if you are feeling under pressure to spend more than you had planned on wine, which can drive up overall costs.
However, a wine merchant will often be happy to give their recommendations on what wine goes with certain dishes.
So with a little bit of forward planning and spending some of your budget on extras like candles and tableware, you can host a dinner party that everyone will be talking about!


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