If you have a special occasion or event coming up, one great way to celebrate is to prepare a special meal. But what makes a special meal, and how can you make sure it goes down a storm? It can depend on many different things, but you can use my favourite tips to help you! Whether you’re cooking for one other person or a whole group of people, these tips should be of use to you. Enjoy!

Never Use a New Recipe/New Ingredient at the Same Time

If you use a new ingredient and a new recipe simultaneously, it’s a recipe for disaster. You should do one or the other if you’re intent on trying something new. Of course, you’ll probably get the best results if you cook something you’ve cooked before. This way, you can perfect it and make sure it’s more delicious than it was before!  

Have a Dummy Run in Advance

OK, so you’re using a new ingredient or recipe. Try to make the time for a dummy run in advance. This way you can pre-empt any issues you’ll have and work them out for the real deal. It always amazes me how people will use a brand new recipe or ingredient and then act baffled when things don’t turn out exactly as they hoped. It always happens on Come Dine With Me, but I suspect the producers have something to do with that to make for more interesting viewing.

 

Make Enough for Everybody

Make sure you make enough of this dish for everybody. This means you have to measure out your ingredients – yes it’s a chore, but it’ll save you a lot of hassle. You don’t want to run out or have to give everybody seriously tiny portions. That being said, you don’t want to make too much and force feed everybody seconds/thirds. There are a few ingredients that people have trouble measuring out – pasta being the worst one! It never looks enough, then once it’s cooked you have too much. Read the recipe instructions carefully and weigh it out to get the exact amount. Use a little bit more if you like just to be sure, but don’t go overboard.

Set the Table

Make sure the table looks good; it is a special occasion after all! It isn’t just about the food you serve, it’s the entire experience. Make the table look pretty and inviting for your guests. There are a number of tablecloths that will help you achieve a nice look. Make sure you know how to set the table properly too. Flowers and maybe even candles could add to the atmosphere! I’d say you should also play a little music in the background. Not only will this add to the atmosphere, it’ll help any awkward silences and fill the space while you’re eating.

Work on Your Food Presentation Skills

Now, on to food presentation. Your food could taste delicious, but if it doesn’t look amazing, people won’t want to eat it! We eat with our eyes before our mouths, so the food should look just as nice as it tastes. There are lots of tutorials online, depending on what you’re serving. Usually, the best dishes are served on white plates, as you can see everything better that way. Presentation should be clean and colourful. Make sure it isn’t too complicated! Slopping everything straight on the plate won’t have the effect you want it to have.

Buy Drinks that Compliment Your Meal

When it comes to the beverages, make sure they compliment what you’re cooking. If you want to get a nice bottle of wine, make sure you do your research to see what it goes with. There are some white wines that go very well with fish, for example. There may even be people who don’t want to drink alcohol, so bear that in mind when making your selection. Have water ready and maybe even some juice or cordial.

Take Allergies/Dislikes/Dietary Requirements Into Account

Double check with everybody beforehand to ensure there are no allergies, dislikes, or dietary requirements you need to take into account. You might even need to whip up or separate dish if somebody is say, a vegetarian. More often than not there won’t be any problems and you’ll be free to get creative.

Remember Your Hygiene

Try to remember to be as hygienic as possible as you put this meal together. Keep your hands clean, and wash everything you use well beforehand. It would definitely ruin a good meal if one of your guests got ill afterwards! They’d never come to you for food ever again. I’d probably tie your hair out of the way and keep pets out of the room too. There’s nothing worse than finding a hair in your food!

Be a Good Host

Your hosting skills should be up to a good standard. You want to serve the meal in good time, and make sure everybody has what they need before you all start eating. You don’t need to pretend to be a Michelin Star restaurant, but you should do your best to accommodate for everybody and make sure they’re having a good time. Something I like to do, is think of a few topics we can discuss beforehand. You may not need to if everybody is already well acquainted with one another, but if you’re introducing new people into the mix, it might help to have some ideas first. You don’t want your mind to go blank under pressure. Awkward silences are the worst – another thing I’ve learned from Come Dine With Me.

There you have them; my favourite tips for preparing a special meal. I hope they help you and that you have a great time! Remember, it isn’t just about the food; it’s the overall experience you give people. Make it a good one and this special occasion will be remembered forever. Do you have some tips you’d like to share with me? Leave a comment below!

Sarah x