Being a good host shouldn’t be limited to how you behave around the dining room table. Whether you’re meeting a contact in a far-flung city, tucking into a team lunch with colleagues or just buttering a slice of toast for your terrier, Trevor, the generosity and care should be the same. Ask any ambassador. A diplomat worth their salty canapés will assure you that entertaining isn’t just something you do after work or to unwind (not least because it can be rather stressful).
As such, MONOCLE's definition of hospitality is a broad-ish one. We’ve championed honest and interesting producers, and the role of restaurants in city-making. We’ve also pushed an unfussy approach to food that’s at odds with other publications, particularly those that insist on meals being a chance to show off – people who think that evenings out should be punctuated by pushy waiters explaining “the concept” behind their wildly overthought menu. No smoke, emulsions or splatters on our plates, please.
2 With this in mind we decided to cook up and commission a few telling tales about the art of hosting (and it is an art, not a science). We tried to fathom a rough formula to follow, to distil ideas to help with the alchemy of entertaining. That moment a good meal becomes a great one. The result? A few good-natured rules of thumb and plenty to inspire, cajole and pique your curiosity. The wine to match the main? Check. Should saucy Susan sit next to rowdy Robert? Certainly. What’s the ideal recipe for dinner à deux? Pasta. Entertaining, remember, isn’t about the hors d’oeuvres, hock or how big your house is. It’s bigger than that. It’s a way of behaving; a mindset. To misquote Shakespeare, all the world’s a dining room: now get out of the kitchen and let us introduce you to a few of our guests.
Editor: Josh Fehnert
Photo editors: Matt Beaman, Shin Miura
Cover still life: Trisha Ward
Designers: Maria Hamer, Giulia Tugnoli
Key to writers: MKA) Mikaela Aitken, (CA) Chloë Ashby, (MB) Michael Booth, (RB) Robert Bound, (PBU) Petri Burtsov, (JCH) James Chambers, (LCL) Leanne Clancey, (jaf) Josh Fehnert, (kh) Kenji Hall, (lho) Louis Harnett O’Meara, (sli) Scarlett Lindeman, (nm) Nic Monisse, (PN) Paul Noble, (VR) Venetia Rainey, (HRS) Henry Rees-Sheridan, (MSS) Marie-Sophie Schwarzer, (AW) Annick Weber
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We hear about the time the Kiwi prime minister made our bureau chief a cup of tea then left him to lock up and we also recommend dinner party soundtracks. Plus: a sobering thought on no-alcohol occasions.
At home with...
Our writers visit the homes of three sets of food folks we admire, from the wilds of Tasmania to Prince Edward County, Ontario, via an apartment in Monaco.
How to host
The key ingredients that make for a memorable dinner party and the topics of conversation to avoid.
Some hearty and simple suggestions for catering for two, four or six guests at a time, plus a Swedish take on something to start.
MONOCLE’s animated agony uncle and his feline familiar (Mr Tiddly) hold forth on the do’s and definitely don’ts of entertaining and attending a decent bash.
You’ll learn why almost-perfect Scandinavia doesn’t do hosting at home as you might imagine, how Stalin’s cookbook became a hit and what kitchen kit says about our changing eating habits.
You’re invited to a farmhouse in Arles, a Brooklyn backyard and Roman home to meet the people rethinking the restaurant.
We make a case for the bottles to buy and offer an easy take on wine pairings. We’ve a global pick of tipples to try, from bolshy New Worlders to Swiss specials and a UK sparkling wine par excellence.
From an age-old soy sauce manufacturer in Kyoto to a Zürich deli, Parisian supermarket and London knife shop, these are the spots to stock up for your dinner party.