Sabine and I have hosted hundreds of dinner parties over the years and having owned or managed a number of restaurants in our early days we effectively threw dinner parties daily! Over the years I have run a number of luxury hotels and along the journey I began to dislike the “fine-dining restaurant” – they seemed so stuffy and definitely not fun! Being an island boy I am more drawn to casual places yet somehow I found myself heading up luxury hotels and restaurants with great chefs and the last thing I wanted was these restaurants to boring & cold – life is too short for that! Sure fancy restaurants are supposed to be luxurious and over the top but if I was spending over 12 hours a day in there I wanted any I ran to feel more like home. So over the years many ideas were inspired by exactly that: home. Before a new dish, painting, service sequence was considered Id ask the question – how would we do this if we were having friends over for dinner. And before I knew it dining became fun! Home sweet home!
I suppose it is natural that when people come home for a BBQ or dinner knowing our history in the hospitality business their expectations are a little high! Sabine and I always try to take our dinner parties to the next level using all those hours of entertaining as our base for creating a moment to recall.
So for a few of the secrets – be present! Genuine hospitality only exists if you can forget about all the things you have to do and focus on the people you are with. Organization & preparation – the more things we get off our to do list before guests walk through the front door the more chance we have to be fully present. And remember even in Latin America there is always someone on time so be ready on time. Plan your day ensure you are ready and you can relax and be with them – that is the point after all.
Create the right vibe – there is always a sense of anticipation when one dresses for an evening out so our priority is to strip it away as soon as they walk in the door to help them relax and enjoy the ride. Hospitality is all about human connection and making people comfortable – in hotels and restaurants we spend hours focusing n lighting, candles, music, flowers, details. Do the same at home. Put together a playlist – set the table & make it nice.
No need to show off –“less is more”- people aren’t coming over for a life changing dining experience, they’re coming to spend time with you and friends. Err on the side of simple, delicious food and serve communal or family stlye in the middle of the table to encourage people to connect.
Send them home with something – a nice touch to end a special meal. Be it the playlist, a alfajor, cookie – we all love pressies.
Enjoy and keep the wine flowin!