restaurant and charming founder of The Art of Service
Cutlery should feel substantial in your hands. The knife and fork should be balanced. If it’s light, it means the handle of the cutlery is hollow, and so it’s cheap. You know when you shut a car
door and it hasn’t quite closed properly? That’s the same kind of feeling.
The type of cutlery you should use in a
restaurant really depends on the type of place. You wouldn’t expect to fi nd metal cutlery at The Ritz, for example – they use silver. The cutlery at Le Gavroche is unusual and special; it features an urchin at the end of the handle.
The best way to make your cutlery
shine is hot water and elbow grease. At Windows, we keep them inside a drawer of padding and cloth so that they’re not rubbing against each other. If you have a silver set at home, the velvet-lined boxes are ideal.
Matt James, party planner to the stars, shares his A-list secrets With just the right combination of primping and preening, the humble sarnie can be transformed into a Tower of Checkerboard Toasts Gratinée
PIMP YOUR TABLE Don’t just set out the cutlery and plonk a fl ower arrangement in the middle – consider all the little touches that help dress a table: a few (unscented) candles scattered around, a table runner to add a pop of colour or texture, or a charger plate to decorate each place setting. If you’re using place cards, think about what you can use as holders to make them more decorative. For example, each card could be slotted into a red apple, a pine cone, or a baby squash – depending on your theme. A cheap trick to make fl oral centrepieces more stylish is to choose one colour of fl ower and arrange them in clear vases tightly fi lled with one type of fruit, for example whole lemons, limes, or oranges.
INVITING LIGHTING Lighting has a huge impact on the ambience of a party. You want to create a warm, inviting and comfortable mood, so make sure any overhead lights are dimmed and use multiple light sources spread around the room such as lamps, downlighters and candles. If you’re dining outside in the summer, use paper luminaries to create a soft amber glow. You can make these yourself by putting tea lights into jam jars then placing them into plain brown paper bags weighed down with a little sand. Alternatively, hang a cluster of paper lanterns at varying heights over and around the table and place small battery powered LED lights inside. party-ideas-by-a-pro.com
PRETTY = YUMMY Spend a bit of time in advance thinking about presentation. Often people focus so much on the actual menu that they forget to think about how it will all look together. Remember: fi rst impressions get the appetite revving. If you’re serving canapés, use petals or fl ower heads as tray decoration. For desserts, squeeze a few dots of sauce, or make a zigzag pattern on the plate.
Dessert: Cube of hand-rolled Arctic Ocado Circles topped with nitrogen- blasted heavy cream and raspberry jus set in a bow-tie jelly
> Inspired? Discover a whole library of impressive (and easy) party-perfect recipes galore at ocado.com/recipes <
PHOTOGRAPHY: DAN MATTHEWS. FOOD STYLING: SEIKO HATFIELD