In a post-Tinder world you may actually get the opportunity to make an IRL impression on your potential mate. If you haven’t managed to send them running after a couple of boozy after work drinks you might even find yourself in the awkward position of inviting them over for ‘dinner’. Unbeknownst to you they actually expect you to cook them something, and not just order Miss Chu and buy the first Riesling you find with a recognisable label. I’ve thrown together a little list of dos and don’ts to get you headed in the right direction.
If you want to look like a professional…
Make an effort
Set the table, buy a decent bottle of wine but don’t over do it. White for chicken, fish, and cream based dishes. Red for red meat and tomato based dishes. Keep it simple; don’t feel the need to bust out those tea-lights you’ve been hoarding or the good china your mother gave you when you finally left home.
Have a shower in between cooking and when your date arrives
Cooking can get messy, and when you’re in the zone you may not realise that you smell like raw salmon. If you can manage to grab a quick shower and clean yourself up while you have dinner simmering away, you’re going to feel much fresher when your date arrives and you won’t leave a sheen of sweat on her face when you kiss her hello.
Have a practice run
Best piece of advice I ever had was ‘never cook something for a special occasion that you’ve never made before’. Does that mean that every person I’ve ever tried to impress gets one of my three specialties? Maybe (well, yes), but there is no shame in having that one dish that never fails to impress. If cooking was never your strong suit, try out your intended meal for a mate or even your mum before you hit the big leagues
If you want to avoid looking like a goose…
Don’t Garlic/Carb overload
Nothing like a post-dinner bloat or garlic breath to kill any possible desert-skipping action. I don’t need to school you on this one. Using too many chopped herbs is self explanatory too. You want your date to be relaxed, not running their tongue across their teeth checking for bugs in their grill. Fresh herbs tend to stick, so if your recipe calls for it, try and mix the herbs in a bit earlier.
Don’t create unrealistic expectations
You want to show of some of your skills, but try not to cook something overly complicated on the first go if you’re not so confident. Less is more on your first trip around the chopping board for a date. If your palms start to sweat when you walk into a Thomas Dux try and stick with a grilled fish, chicken or something similar.
Don’t keep asking, “is it okay?”
They are guaranteed to tell you how great it tastes regardless and you want to create the illusion that you have some kind of marketable skill in the kitchen. If everything does end up looking a little less Masterchef-esque than you hoped your date is more often than not going to put on their best poker face and tell you how good it is (even if you both know better).
Don’t be afraid to admit defeat
If cooking is not your thing, honestly just give it your best. If your steak sets you waving a tea-towel at the smoke alarm and you didn’t put the gelatine in the panna cotta, then worst case scenario is you and your new man/lady-friend can laugh it off over that wine and Miss Chu we thought was the plan all along.