This week I’m glad I’m not Bear Grylls. I write this not because I’ve got anything against the man, but because I’ve just learned that his friends include one Gordon Ramsay. It’s not that I’m anti-Ramsay either. I just wouldn’t want him sitting expectantly at my dining room table, stomach a-rumble.
Ironically for someone famed for his keen survival instinct, Bear engineered just such a predicament when he cooked Sunday lunch for the family Ramsay at Easter. As he recounts it (he of course lived to tell the tale), he failed to light the chef’s fire. ‘I was watching him like a hawk,’ he reported, ‘and he hardly touched his plate.’
I wrote this in May 2008. And yes, it was the best meal of my life (so far).
A new style of dinner party is evolving and it pays little heed to received convention or etiquette. We speak to three generations of hostesses and compare what, exactly, has changed.
ACCORDING TO Red Snapper event planners, the number one dinner party faux pas is a lack of time management. ‘Be as prepared as possible,’ it says. ‘Do as many of the kitchen preparations beforehand, leaving you free to socialise.’
Becky Convey knows this. Nevertheless, when we arrive at her North London home at 2pm on a wet Sunday afternoon, the 33 year-old hostess is standing in her partially-renovated kitchen in a flowery blue apron, still rolling homemade pasta through her pasta machine. “I will of course offer the guests a drink when they arrive,” she yells to her husband Giles, as he shows us through to the lounge area, “but they couldn’t possibly have arrived yet, ’cause I’m not ready for them!”
I have been invited by these friends as an honorary guest to this, their second ‘GMC’ – aka ‘Greedy Middle Class’ – dinner party. The theme – there is always a theme – is socially conscious food, so the emphasis is on ethically sound, British ingredients. Each guest has brought a dish, making this feast an eight-course, £350 and, as it turns out, six-hour eating extravaganza.