With over 25 years as proprietor of L?Ecrivain and a Michelin star under his belt, Derry Clarke has some invaluable advice for keeping a cool head in the kitchen. Here, the new?ambassador for Samsung's high-tech kitchen?appliances'shares his?favourite?tips for uncomplicated?entertaining...
1. SET THE TONE This is technically my wife, Sallyanne's, tip (she's usually the hostess in our house) but it's a good one. Being ready with a nice glass of prosecco and some nibbles as soon as your guests arrive is a really simple way to ease everyone into the evening and set a relaxed mood. Then all you have to do is keep the bubbles flowing ? drinking responsibly, of course!
2. SIMPLIFY People who overthink when they're preparing to host an event tend to end up getting tense. Rather than planning obsessively or overreaching, my advice would be to keep it loose and simplify as much as possible. Don't be afraid to use your fail-safe dish: something you make often and know you can do well.
3. BE ATTENTIVE Being a gracious host is better than being a perfect one. Stay in the moment on the night and really listen to your guests, rather than getting caught up in worrying about getting every detail right.
4. IT?S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY You don't have to spend a fortune to show people a good time. Expensive champagne isn't a prerequisite for an enjoyable evening; people care about the quality, not the price tag.
5. KEEP PERSPECTIVE It's worth remembering that the people you've invited are your friends, presumably, and they aren't going to critique your performance (not harshly at least). At the end of the day, the more laid-back you are, the more fun your guests will have, and that's what really matters.