Beetroot sorbet, smoked chicken, blue cheese salad

How to host a dinner party.

How to host a dinner party? Sounds simple, I mean we feed ourselves everyday. How difficult can it be to feed a few extra mouths? Depending on how much thought you put into it, very. From classic mistakes like putting the grill on rather than the oven. To something not being cooked or defrosted. The list of faux pas’ are endless. When I host people for dinner there is one basic rule which makes the evening go to plan. It’s not gone horribly wrong yet.

  1. Work on the 10 minute rule-Never be away from guests for more than 10 minutes.

By applying everything to this rule, it dictates what you’re going to cook in advance. As most dishes take 10 minutes just to finish off and plate up, this means most of your cooking needs to be done ahead of time. I also work backwards from the main course. If cooking something that needs time in the oven, plan this to be ready at a specific time and work backwards. An example of my latest dinner party and the timings are as follows.


These are cheese choux pastries, served warm straight from the oven while guests arrive and are served aperitifs. As guests arrive, I take the sorbet out of the freezer to soften and place the meat (for main which takes an hour) into the oven.

Beetroot sorbet, smoked chicken, blue cheese salad

All constituents of this dish are made ahead, so just need to be plated to serve. Roughly 30 minutes before you want the main. This leaves plenty of time to sit down, enjoy the meal yourself and coerce with your guests. Find the recipe here.

Iberico Presa, bubble and squeak cake, chicory.

When the meat is ready, let it rest on the side. As it is resting cook the chicory and reheat the potatoes. Find the Iberico Pork recipe here.

Oeufs a la neige

Again, the Oeufs a la Niege can actually be made ahead. All that is needed is to reheat the custard and make the caramel. Make sure you practice making caramel beforehand!!! It can go horribly wrong,

Salted caramel Hazelnut Macaron

Once thats all gone swimmingly, it’s time for coffees and petit fours. My favourite part of the meal when we go out. On this occasion I just ruffled up some macarons. Can’t go wrong with macarons.

Remember the basic 10 minute rule when planning a dinner party and work backwards from the main course. What could possibly go wrong!!


  1. You are spot on with the 10-minute rule. I think as much as can be prepared ahead, should be. The party should be as much fun for me as for anyone else.

  2. Great advice, I write a schedule so get annoyed when people turn up late! Anyway, when is the next dinner party? I am sure I’ll be free! Your food always looks so amazing.

  3. Lucky guests who get to enjoy one of your incredible meals…better than going to a restaurant.

    • Dave Crichton

      Not to blow my own trumpet, but my wife quite often complains when we go to a normal restaurant for dinner. What was the point when we have better at home. Thanks Karen.

  4. Great entertaining tips and I would love to come to your house for dinner so I can sample all these amazing dishes.

  5. What great advice Dave, I usually write up a schedule and that way I won’t forget a component when things get going. I usually like to use one or two things from the freezer (like hors d’œuvres, soup and parts of dessert) to lessen my cooking time in advance. Years ago, I hosted a dinner party for 8 (including JT and I), I rose at 5am and cooked for 14 hours straight! I was so exhausted by the dinner party. I was unable to enjoy it. I learned a big lesson, so now I space out what gets my immediate efforts. Being away from your guests for 10-minute intervals also sounds like sage advice. JT has the same complaint about eating out and there are certain foods he simply won’t order out because he likes mine better! I can certainly see why your wife feels the same way, afterall you are fine dining at home!
    BTW, that macaron looks fantastic!

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