Hostess with the Mostess
I don’t go to the gym but have excellent biceps. My secret? I cook for people a lot. Playing host over the years has led to muscular development that I didn’t even know was possible because preparing for a dinner party is just one big work out. A gym circuit is all about interval training and so is cooking for a group of people: once it’s all done you feel great but before you get to the finish line you need to sweat it out. This is why when I start prepping for a dinner party I like think of my second favourite ‘O word’ after Oprah and get super Organised.
Step one is writing a shopping list. Immediately after I write it, I take a photo of it. Nine times out of ten lists never make it out of the house and I like to reserve my pre-dinner party tears for onion cutting not supermarket meltdowns. Arriving at the grocery store this list becomes my spiritual guide. I strictly buy what’s on it following a shameful period where I kept coming home with baby vegetables and exotic fruits I couldn’t pronounce.
I never use a shopping trolley and carry everything from the shop to my car to my apartment. This is a great time to work on upper arm strength without even knowing you’re doing it. I thought about investing in one of those tartan shopping carts but I’m still grieving over an incident where I witnessed a stranger’s cart get caught on a tram track at the Queen Victoria Market. No oranges were spared that day.
Back at home I start chopping, sautéing and roasting depending on the meal. My favourite part of cooking is when I open the oven and get a free facial from the steam. Once the cooking is underway I must confront my number one domestic nemesis – the mop – and give the house a quick spruce. I know I’ve a done a good job cleaning the floor when I feel a burn run up my hamstring.
Now that the house is clean and food is almost done, I think about ambience (even though the word reminds me of shopping for scented candles with my mum in the 1990s). I’ll make a playlist, trim flowers, set the table and flick the switches of my apartment’s downlights until I’m happy with a lighting configuration that encourages my guests to openly gorge while feeling super graceful. I call this the warm down interval.
It’s about this time the doorbell rings. Drinks are served on arrival and dinner is dished help-your-self-style on the table. I begin the night’s festivities by carving up a Maggie Beer verjuice soaked roast chicken with my sleeves rolled up and biceps pulsating. It’s show time.
This article originally featured on The Design Files.