From the Farm

Cooking for strangers doesn’t need to be scary

The thought of opening the doors of their house to a group of strangers would throw fear into the heart of some people but, for a growing number of home cooks and professional chefs, it’s becoming the norm, thanks to the social eating revolution.  More and more people are turning to WeFiFo to help them find somewhere to eat and we have compiled a guide to take away the terror of hosting a supper for paying guests – give it a try, you might just get hooked!

Once you’ve decided to take the plunge and open your house to paying guests, it’s time to start planning.  First of all, make sure that you pick a menu that you like – and ideally something that you have cooked before (unless you are supremely confident) – you don’t want to put yourself under any undue pressure.  This should be an enjoyable experience, for you and your guests, so as a host you need to be happy and relaxed – although a few nerves are allowed!

Our advice would be to make lists. Whether you’re a spreadsheet fan or prefer good old pencil and paper, make sure you have everything written down and to hand – perhaps even stuck to the fridge so it’s at eye level.  It’s a good plan to note down all the timings of what needs to be in the oven when, so you don’t forget anything. (You will have been told of any food intolerances or allergies in advance – make sure you have noted them down too.)

Make sure you have all the serving dishes and equipment clean and ready to use– this should eliminate any last-minute panics and ensure that you are calm and ready to cook – rather than having to scrabble around in the dishwasher looking for things (I know – it’s happened to me!)  If possible, lay the table the night before.  Remember, candles are lovely and flowers are good, too, as long as people can see over them.

When your guests arrive, welcome them into your home and offer them a drink.  You will know the names of all your guests so make any introductions and once everyone has arrived you can talk your guests through the plans for the evening, as well as giving them the less salubrious details such as where the loo is. It’s easy to forget and you don’t want them wandering around opening doors or getting lost!

Guests don’t want to be hurried to the table; they can go to any high street chain for that – but neither do they want to hang around for hours waiting for their supper.  If you allow for about half an hour from arrival to supper, that should suit most people – especially if you give them something to eat while they wait (cheese straws are always a favourite). If you do end up running a little late, make sure you tell everyone; nobody will mind a slight delay as long as they know.

Depending on how you have listed your event, you will either be joining your guests for supper or just cooking – or a mixture of both – and everyone should be looking forward to the evening ahead – so let the fun begin!

You may find you have groups of people who all know each other, which makes life a little easier, but some people may have booked single seats, so if you can, spend some time at the table getting to know your guests and making them feel at ease.  However, it seems that when people with a love of food get together the conversation flows and you will probably find that everyone will be chatting amongst themselves very quickly – a shared love of food is a wonderful thing and of all the events I’ve been to, lack of conversation has never been an issue – although you may want to agree some ‘no go’ topics at the start of the evening.

After the food has been eaten, the wine has been drunk and your guests have gone home happy and content, you can put your feet up and relax (the washing up can wait!) – and hopefully ruminate over what is sure to have been a successful evening.  Who knows, you might even start planning your next WeFiFo event…

 

 

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