The Not-So Starving Student-Cooking to Impress 101

Have you had your eyes set on a potential partner for the longest time yet they’re unresponsive to your cues? Or maybe you’re in a relationship but you’re wondering what to do to show your affection.  Since the dawn of civilization, cooking and dining has been a way for us to show appreciation—to celebrate and to admire another being.  Lady and the Tramp fell in love over a plate of spaghetti.  Most modern first dates revolve around the restaurant scene.  Even if you’re not looking to woo, there are plenty of reasons to plan an important dinner for a few distinguished guests.  Here are some tips on how to make them feel special.

Make a menu

Designing a menu shows dedication.  It also allows you to plan what appetizers, entrees and desserts you plan on serving.  For beginners start with a three-course meal, but if you feel confident with your cooking expertise, feel free to entertain the VIP guest with a four or five course.  There are many templates available online that will give your personalized menu an elaborate touch.  Better yet, if you’re a creative individual try creating your own layout and borders.  The other person will appreciate the extra thought and effort you put in.

Hit the stove
Even if you’re uncomfortable with serving food to yourself, let alone another person, rest assured that online recipes will save you from your insecurities.  A friend of mine recently made a romantic three-course meal—including an appetizer of bacon-wrapped asparagus, broiled lobster tails and a no-bake cheesecake—for his significant other.  At the end of the day, it’s more about the effort rather than the final product.

Set the mood
To complete the whole package, you want to set the mood with the right lighting and decor.  My personal favorite includes scented candles, bouquets, or even the simple use of wine glasses or mason jars even if no alcohol is served.  Prepare for some jaw-dropping reactions from your guest when you both sit down for dinner.

Make a toast
Before eating, prepare a short line or two to deliver a message.  The toast does not have to be formal but could be short, simple and to the point.  Like the bacon to the asparagus, it wraps up the contents of the event and creates a much greater impact on the person.  If the idea of a toast brings out the nerves, write a short message in a card and offer it to your guest before they leave.

Clean up after your guests
Unless your guest is your mother, there’s no escaping the cleanup process.  Equally important as starting the meal, you want to end the meal with a bang.  No guest wants to be left to scrub the dirty dishes so it’s imperative you show the initiative to do so.  By tidying up, you’re also sending the message that you alone are responsible for the entirety of the meal and no help was sought.