what type of host/hostess gifts are appropriate for a dinner party, and do you bring the chef a gift as well?
February 25, 2010 7:59 PM   Subscribe

what to bring to dinner for the host and (well known) chef?

I was lucky to be invited to an acquaintance's home for a small, intimate dinner being cooked by a very well known chef. What do I bring the host? The standard nice bottle of wine? Flowers? I am out of my element when it comes to these types of things. And then how about the chef? Do I bring him something? Food? If so, like what?
posted by dublin to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
For the host: a bottle of wine or flowers is absolutely fine.

For the chef: a big appetite and a willingness to try a variety of foods.
posted by sallybrown at 8:16 PM on February 25, 2010

A friend of mine who's a chef said that a) people get super-weird about when he cooks and adulating him instead of enjoying the food and b) nobody ever cooks for him because they think he wants gourmet food but he really wants mom-style chili like his mom used to make.

I also say wine or flowers for the host; if you wanted to be super-nice to the chef, you could bring him a (homemade) coffee cake he could eat the next morning, but I don't think it's necessary.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:23 PM on February 25, 2010

Here's what I'd do. Go to a boutique wine shop and ask to speak to the general manager or owner. Explain that you want a great bottle of wine because you will be at a private party with NAME OF CHEF.

The rest will take care of itself.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:42 PM on February 25, 2010

Beautiful handmade chocolates.
posted by fifilaru at 8:43 PM on February 25, 2010

2nding flowers. People often forget how much they can enhance your evening. Also, what about something simple like truffles? Even store-bought, they make a nice ending to a good supper.
posted by Gilbert at 9:34 PM on February 25, 2010

My very skilled chef ex-bf loves to eat my cooking--makes him feel taken care of, and he doesn't always want to cook. Sure, he offers critique, but only because we're (still) close, and he knows I'm looking to improve, always. People who get into cooking nearly always love to eat, too. You have something special you make? If not, a nice bottle of wine works for this, too.

For the host, wine or flowers sure, but don't fall into the "I brought this, so open it up" mindset. Likely the host or the chef has selected wine to complement the meal.

Enjoy! Sounds like a fun time.
posted by mollymayhem at 10:40 PM on February 25, 2010

If you want to take food... spend a small fortune on beautiful fresh fruit.. like a fruit basket. But lovely, fruit. Not cruddy run of the mill cheap ones. We do that and it always goes over well.

In an Australian context we take mangoes and blueberries and raspberries and mulberries... berries are outrageously expensive here, even when they're cheap. Raspberries can sell for $20 a punnet. Mangoes can be $5 each in the off season.

We always get a wow factor. I suggest you take your local equivalent. Chocolate is so.... passe.
posted by taff at 12:00 AM on February 26, 2010

Oh... and the hand written thank you note posted afterwards.... trumps all and every gift.
posted by taff at 12:02 AM on February 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

It's not a competition and he is a human being.

If you read what a lot of chefs love to eat at home, their tastes tend to be quite simple, and revolve around quality ingredients. Quality ham, cheese etc.

So, as you're going to a small intimate dinner it might be a little OTT to try and compete. Go to a really decent wine merchant, and try and find something that is both nice and a little unusual, but which doesn't give the impression that you're overawed by the occasion. This is the chef's time off.

I'd stay away from bringing food, generally. He'll have sorted the menu, and anything else may be politely received and put to one side, however nice.

Flowers work well too. And although I'm not a well known chef, I still really appreciate a thank you note.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:09 AM on February 26, 2010

If you bring wine, don't do so on the assumption that you're contributing to the meal. Apart from anything else, the chef will have planned the meal carefully, including the wine selection, so bringing wine would be a bit like going into the kitchen and trying to help with the cooking. It would tread on toes.

If you want to bring a gift, it's very nice to bring it for the host, but it's really up to the host to give whatever tokens of appreciation he chooses to the chef.

If I were you, I'd bring something non-edible. Flowers, already arranged in a vase so the host doesn't have to dash around, would be nice.
posted by tel3path at 4:50 AM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Exactly, tel3path! It's a gift, not a potluck contribution.

When I host a dinner party, I'm delighted when my friends bring chocolate or wine or cheese, but that's because I'm (a) broke and (b) too casual and clueless to have a strong opinion about exactly what chocolate, cheese, and wine is the one which works best with the meal I'm planning. The chef, presumably, is not working under those constraints.

There are all sorts of ways of skirting the issue (consumables clearly not meant for tonight - sealed chocolates, unchilled beverages), or non-consumables to bring (a boutonniere is fun if you think the host will have a button-hole). When it comes right down to it, though, giving the gift of politeness is my favorite - be prompt but not early, complimentary and thoughtful, and send a card the next day.
posted by aimedwander at 6:57 AM on February 26, 2010

Things I've been given as a host that I really, really appreciated: chocolates, unusual candies, a box of initialed note cards (with our last name initial on them), really lovely wine glass charms, a box of interesting teas (the gift-giver knew of my love for tea), some lovely fleur de sel, and once I was even given a small gift card to our city's local ice cream parlor. Things I have been given and I appreciated but wished the giver had gone another way: wine (because you sort of feel obligated to open it that night - unless the giver states specifically that it's not for that night - and the wine and food were so carefully paired beforehand) and unvased flowers (because then you have to find the right-sized vase, cut the stems, find somewhere to put the vase, clean up the mess, all the while greeting other guests who are coming in). Don't get me wrong, I would never be unappreciative of any gift, it's just that some are less work for the host.

A thank you card sent the next day is such a wonderful touch. I wish more people did that.
posted by cooker girl at 8:33 AM on February 26, 2010

On the subject of thank-yous - maybe I should point out that a host/ess gift, though common practice, isn't required, but a thank-you letter, though not common practice, is required.
posted by tel3path at 9:15 AM on February 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Truffle infused Honey and some brie cheese... Umm so good! He, or she, will be impressed. I'm a big foodie and this blew my socks off just recently.
posted by bkeene12 at 8:01 PM on February 26, 2010

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