Over the past couple of months (years?), we’ve been missing spontaneous nights out and the ambience of a rowdy restaurant. But more than that, we’ve been missing dinner parties. There’s something magical about having friends and family over to your house that doesn’t compare to going out. Especially during times of restrictions when you can while away the time with no pressure about handing back the table. As Melbourne finally throws its doors open, we asked three local talent what they’ve missed about dinner parties, and how they’ll herald their return.

Shane Delia – Maha chef and restaurateur
Shane Delia hates spending all day cooking and shopping when he’s hosting a dinner party. “Even though I’m a chef, I like to make things as easy as possible when I’m cooking at home,” he says. Since the lockdown lifted, he’s already had the family over for a long lunch. “I cooked one dish,” he says. “I grilled some fish really simply over the barbeque with salt, picked up some really good fresh noodles from my local Asian grocer, ordered a bucketload of dumplings from David’s on Providoor and drank good wine without restaurant prices.” With this mix-and-match tactic, he can spend less time in the kitchen and more time at the table chatting and catching up with friends.

Delia says 10 to 15 people is the sweet spot for the number of guests. “Anything bigger than that and it’s a bit unruly,” he says. “I’ve got a big table that seats 12 people and I love setting out all the crockery, dimming the lights. We’re lucky enough to have a big garden at home, so something outside on a summer’s evening would be lovely as well. Plus, the best part of dinner parties is you don’t have to worry about parking and babysitters.”

Stephanie Stamatis - Stylist and creative director
Stephanie Stamatis has missed the “before times” of having friends scattered around her dining table and more to talk about than lockdown. The stylist and creative director behind Stepahnie Somebody moved into a new home earlier this year where the kitchen and dining are linked, and she cannot wait to make proper use of it.

Stamatis’ first post-lockdown dinner party will be a relaxed Italian feast (though she admits feeling tempted by an Alison Roman-style hot dog party). “I love making a big skillet of cacio e pepe or a pot of brothy beans and serving lots of sides to pick at,” she says. “Warm olives, melon and prosciutto, burrata, and a big leafy salad or two.” Spritzes will be served to match and a basque cheesecake plated up for dessert. Decorations? “I love to pull out my collections of murano glassware, vintage platters, Italian beeswax candles and linens,” she says. “All the hand-wash-only stuff all at once.”

Matt Stirling – bartender (Fancy Free, The Black Pearl)
When people asked Matt Stirlng where he’d go first after lockdown, the answer was always Bar Liberty. “I almost feel ashamed of how easily the answer comes,” he says. “It’s just great.” After that, it’s a post-lockdown barbeque at home. “A big day with family and friends just filtering in and out. Human connection is the hardest thing to quantify but you know it’s good for you when you’re getting plenty of it. I think everybody will realise just how much they’ve needed it.”

He says his first dinner party will be small but pumping, with South African pop on the playlist and fewer people around so there’s more time to “talk a lot about nothing” and catch up. In terms of food, Stirling loves to serve “lots of tasty small things” you can eat with one hand, which leaves space in the other for a drink. The drinks menu will be “bright, fresh and fruity” with “plenty of low-ABV stuff so you can stay engaged in tasting heaps of different stuff and stay engaged with your mates. More boozy stuff for later.”

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Providoor.