How I fell for the Deliveroo dinner party – even though I’m a cookery writer
- The Deliveroo dinner party is for hosts who want to entertain without the hassle
- Even cook Nigella Lawson, from London can see the appeal of the latest trend
- READ MORE: The surprisingly down-to-earth dining habits of the royals
The oven is on, the table is laid and I am ransacking my wardrobe for something to wear… when the doorbell rings.
Now, as any discerning dinner party guest knows, it’s impolite to arrive early. The evening isn’t due to start for 20 minutes and I haven’t even got to my blow-dry.
Yet it’s not a guest at the door but dinner itself: an Indian banquet for six, to be precise, hand-delivered from the takeaway down the road.
Years ago, this would have been something of a shameful secret. You’d find me tipping cartons of korma and pilau rice on to plates in a bid to pass it off as my own, and stuffing the packaging deep into the wheelie bin.
But no more. I’ll simply put the lot in the oven to keep warm and go back to getting ready, before greeting my friends, stress-free, with a glass of fizz in hand.
According to the latest cooking report by Waitrose, 15 per cent of us feed our friends by ordering takeaways
Welcome to the Deliveroo dinner party, the latest trend among time-short hosts who want to entertain without the hassle of cooking.
According to the latest cooking report by Waitrose, 15 per cent of us feed our friends by ordering takeaways. And no wonder. The nation got hooked on them during lockdown, when sales soared by 76 per cent, and it’s a habit we don’t want to drop.
Indeed, according to Waitrose’s survey, entertaining is becoming a more relaxed affair all round.
A third of us think the term ‘dinner party’ is stuffy and outdated, while 29 per cent want get-togethers to be ‘effortlessly casual’. Even Nigella Lawson, the original Domestic Goddess, can see the appeal.
Last week, she said: ‘I’m very happy for a friend to come over in their pyjamas to have supper’, adding that constant plate-clearing between courses feels ‘unrelaxing’.
Nigella, 63, admitted to taking short-cuts, including serving Twiglets as a starter. As a working mum-of-two with barely enough time to cook for myself and my family, let alone extra guests, this is music to my ears.
I’ve been a fan of the Deliveroo dinner party for years — long before it was fashionable. It takes the faff out of having people over, as long as you plan well and order in advance. There’s no risk you’ll overcook the main, burn dessert or forget something at the shops.
The variety of takeaway on offer these days is astonishing: choose well and it’ll be better than anything you could rustle up. And don’t let location put you off. I moved to the Suffolk countryside two years ago and my takeaway extravaganzas are still going strong.
Welcome to the Deliveroo dinner party, the latest trend among time-short hosts who want to entertain without the hassle of cooking
We may be out of range of most delivery drivers, but there’s a mobile van serving locally caught fish, a street food pop-up where you can get Mexican tacos, and Neapolitan pizzas on order at the nearest pub.
Serving takeaway gives me more time to host, too. As Martyn Lee, executive chef at Waitrose, explains: ‘We want to spend more time with our guests, so food that keeps conversation flowing is key.’ Plus there’s minimal washing-up at the end of the night.
And friends will love it: studies have proven that we get a dopamine hit when ordering takeaway food, as the brain anticipates that we’ll eat something tasty.
You don’t have to worry about what the neighbours will say, either. According to Debrett’s Guide To Entertaining Etiquette, takeaway dinner parties are now socially acceptable. Indeed, they’ve been included in the manners bible since 2013.
But Laura Windsor of laurawindsoretiquette.com, who went to school with the Princess of Wales, says it’s important to make some effort.
‘You want to make your guests feel special,’ she says. ‘Serve the food on nice crockery. It’s fine to present it family style in the middle of the table. But don’t forget serving utensils. Put flowers on the table, light candles, use linen napkins and make place cards, too.’
Personally, I put a couple of platters on the table, piled with all I’ve ordered. This way it looks like a bountiful feast rather than a cop-out.
For dessert, ice cream is always a winner. I go for affogato — vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso poured on top: easy yet impressive.
Laura adds: ‘Serve plenty of good wine. Pair it well with whatever you’re eating and it’ll feel more put-together.’
It sounds ideal, but takeaway costs are rising — annual prices have soared 19 per cent to between £5 and £11. With the addition of wine, it could be an expensive evening.
So can you ask your guests to pay? Absolutely not, says Laura. ‘Traditionally, talking about money is considered vulgar. But if you’re trying to save, why not ask guests to bring a takeaway dish? You could create a theme or make it potluck and end up with food from around the world.’
So, next time you’re having friends over, step back from the stove and dial Deliveroo instead.
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