Spring is almost here and with it, occasions to celebrate, unwind and socialize - Mother’s Day, Easter, bank holidays and Jardin Blanc at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
The opportunities to bring your loved ones together are bountiful (!) with longer days, seasonal foods and warm weather at your disposal. So, why not make the most of it and get your family or friends together for a dinner-party this spring?
We’ve spoken to the Grand Seigneur of hospitality, Raymond Blanc OBE – Chef Patron of the two Michelin starred Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and Chef Director of Jardin Blanc at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show– for some of his top dinner-party tips.
From menu, to atmosphere, to wine, Monsieur Blanc has some wise words to make dinner party planning simple.
“Firstly, aim to serve something to your guests that you know works. Do not experiment on the night with a new dish,” says Raymond.
When hosting a dinner party you may be tempted to take risks… but, whatever you do, resist that urge!
Cook a dish you’ve made before, perhaps a well-loved recipe. You’ll understand the cooking timings – which will make for a less stressful evening, trust us – and you can rest assured that your food will be beautifully cooked, on time and delicious.
Seasonal and simple
Seasonal produce is always the freshest, most flavourful and often the least expensive. You’ll find that seasonal ingredients don’t need too many frills due to their improved flavour, so feel free to keep the menu simple.
“My menu will always be based on what are the best seasonal ingredients at the time, and secondly, something that I can easily prepare and serve to allow me to spend time with my dinner guests” – Raymond Blanc
Create an ambience
“Part of the joy of having friends[or family] for dinner is to create a convivialatmosphere” says Raymond. It doesn’t have to be expensive or include elaborate entertainment but can be as simple as “making the table elegant with beautiful wine glasses, fresh flowers and candles” àla Raymond Blanc.
End on a high
For an extra special evening, end on a high note – be that a beautiful dessert, a glass from your finest reserves or a fun parlour game that you’ve prepared. Our favourites are a raucous game of charades – add a theme to personalise it – or the more subtle and stealthy ‘wink murder.’
“I like to have artisan cheeses and dessert to give my friends the opportunity to really relax and be spoilt.” – Raymond Blanc
“I spent many years researching and collecting little known wines from France. It was a labour of love which I can now share with my friends and loved ones, and my guests at Belmond Le Manoir,” says Raymond.
With such care and attention given to the food it would be remiss not to think about what your guests will drink. Don’t leave it to them to bring a customary bottle, but take some time to select a wine or other beverage that best matches your dishes and will tie the whole menu, and evening, together.
If you would rather be hosted than host, Jardin Blanc is the ultimate dinner party.
The official hospitality area at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Jardin Blanc is a secret garden restaurant curated by Raymond Blanc OBE. Indulge in beautiful food, artisanal cocktails, live music, a convivial atmosphere and plenty of ‘joie de vivre’ with family or friends.
Choose from one of six luxurious packages at Jardin Blanc, including the glamorous Le Jasmine- where you’ll enjoy a beautiful Champagne afternoon tea, gourmet canapes and an evening of live music - or the Le Lily package, an entire day of delicious food, flora and fizz, from breakfast, to lunch, to afternoon tea. The ultimate treat for mum!