Eating out may not be on the cards for everyone right now. So to help you make your home-cooked meals feel a little more like dinner at your favourite eatery, we turned to restaurant owner Trang Hong. Here, the Berlin-based foodie reveals her expert ideas for hosting a memorable night around your kitchen table.
1. First up, decide on the vibe. For more formal occasions, you’ll want to serve meals at the table. Although this means you’ll be spending a little more time in the kitchen, this type of feast tends to feel more celebratory. A buffet, meanwhile, creates a super relaxed atmosphere, since people can serve themselves. My personal favourite is something I call ‘family style’ dining – food is placed on platters and bowls in the middle of the table, so everyone can dig in.
2. Write out menu cards and put them on plates. It’s a small touch that makes dinners at home feel a bit more special. (And they're so easy to make – I cut mine out of cardboard.)
3. Music, of course! Make a playlist that’ll last at least a few hours. And why not go for something that matches your meal? For example, if you’re going for an Italian menu, ‘Italo Disco’ on Spotify is fun. Or if you’re braving the weather and plan to dine in your garden, try ‘Bossa Nova’ for subtle holiday vibes.
4. To create a more uniform table setting, arrange flowers and candles in your glassware. I prefer these to traditional candlesticks and vases as they can be a bit too high, making it hard to maintain eye contact during conversations.
5. Prep food in advance so you can spend more time at the table. The 30 minutes before the first course is always when people are most hungry. An aperitif, olives, and bread and butter will keep guests happy while they wait. Once the first course has been served, the atmosphere is usually more relaxed, making it easier for you to sneak off to check on anything that’s still in the oven.
Article written by: Lisa Wenske