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 Sydney primes to throw its doors open, we asked four chefs, stylists and restaurateurs what they’ve missed about dinner parties, and how they’ll herald their return.
Neil Perry - Chef and restaurateur
Like many of us, Neil Perry has become “a bit of a loner” this year. “The only time I’m interacting with other people is at work,” he says. While that includes behind-the-scenes prep for his new restaurant Margaret, he’s also “craving some company in the house and cooking for the people I love along with great friends.” Perry says as lockdown comes to an end he’ll be hosting long, leisurely dinners. Nothing huge, though. He says a table of six to ten people is the sweet spot: once you get over that number, it’s hard for everyone to get involved in the conversation.
“When you go to someone’s house, the reality is you’re going [there] to see them - you don’t want your host to be spending too much time in the kitchen,” he says. He reccomends keeping the food simple, the menu within your expertise and take time to shop for superior produce. Perry’s dinner party favourite? A Moroccan fish or chicken tagine – something you can organise during the day, then reheat and plop on the table at night along with some fresh, crusty bread to break, couscous and wine. Dessert is just as carefree: a couple of quality cheeses, grapes and free-flowing wine.
Lucy Montgomery - Sydney-based stylist
Before she does anything else post-lockdown, Sydney stylist Lucy Montgomery says she’s heading out to Fratelli Paradiso in Potts Point for her all-time favourite dish: the scampi pasta. After that, it’s back to the get-togethers she’s been missing dearly: Sunday lunch that turns into dinner at her parent’s house and al fresco dinner parties with friends at her North Bondi home.
Montgomery says lunch at her parents’ is a “feast for the masses” but she likes to keep it casual at her place, with share plates, barbequed food and Cloudy Bay Chardonnay: “my tipple of choice, day or night”. She’s thinking an elegant tablespace as the centrepiece, featuring “striped table linen, Italian ceramics and Murano glassware by Campbell Rey from my new collection. I like to keep it understated with foliage from my garden. I can’t wait to appreciate the balmy air, the smell of jasmine and the smokey barbeque”.
Ibby Moubadder - Restaurateur and co-owner of Nour
Co-owner of thronging Crown Street restaurant Nour, Ibby Moubadder has, like many of us, been missing the “sense of community” that comes with having friends to his house. He’s looking forward to the end of lockdown allowing reminiscing on fond memories of dinner parties gone by, from “big lunches with family to intimate dinners with my closest friends”. He says he’s having a small group of mates around to “reshare old stories and connect on a deeper level than we’ve been able to do over the last few months inside”. For food he’s planning lamb massaman curry with kipfler potatoes and a glass of dry Riesling to match. “It’s always been a crowd pleaser amongst my friends”.
Steve Cordony - Interior and event stylist
Along with trips to Icebergs and Rockpool, stylist Steve Cordony has missed “choosing different locations to celebrate life” since lockdown began, whether grazing in a park, on a boat or at a restaurant. But he’s also been pining to throw an al fresco spring dinner party for family at his spectacularly renovated 1877 Georgian farmhouse near Orange, New South Wales.
“Given the times at the moment, creating a smaller, more bespoke and unique dinner experience with small details that make it more personal is what I’m most excited about,” says Cordony. Like Perry, he thinks a good dinner party is one where the host isn’t stuck in the kitchen. Which is where Providoor comes in. “A Providoor box makes it easy for planning,” he says. “And it means there’s more time to focus on the styling”. His recommendation? “Massive candles,” claims Cordony. “And massive flowers in various vases running down the table and beautiful crisp linen – that's all you need.”
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Providoor.