Valentine's dinner tips

Is food the way to a loved one's heart? <em>Time Out</em> asks the masters, what’s the best way to impress on Valentine’s Day?

Interview
The setting

Pierre Gagnaire, founder of Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire: ‘It’s important to stay focused, and not try to do too much, otherwise your evening will be a mess. Just do a few things well. On Valentine’s Day, you don’t want to spend the whole evening doing dishes.’

Colin Clague, executive chef at Zuma: ‘Don’t overlook the music. The right soundtrack is essential in setting the mood. In fact, it’s just as important as the food and the lighting.’

Pas Wanlapai, Chef de Cuisine at Pai Thai: ‘Use colourful and exotic flowers. It’s also nice to dim the lights in the room and use candles at the table, with a red table cloth and golden overlay. Tip it off with some instrumental background music, and use incense – it’s exotic and relaxing.’

Chef Grant Murray, chef de cuisine at Pierchic: ‘To recreate the setting of the more romantic restaurants, you have to be inventive. As long as everything is done from the heart, then it should be the perfect evening.’

The meal

Pierre Gagnaire: ‘Food kills love. For a romantic evening, you want to make sure you leave the table a little bit hungry.’

Colin Clague: ‘An informal sharing concept is perfect for Valentine’s Day. I would suggest having a dozen different courses that you could share, each as simple as possible. Maybe prepare a cold starter, like a salad or a light soup, in advance, and have several finger foods in between. Definitely push the boat out with dessert, it’s what everyone remembers.’

Francis Kua Hung Tsai: ‘Thai food is extremely romantic, and it’s certainly unforgettable. Grab some Thai ingredients from the local supermarket and start there.’

Chef Grant Murray: ‘I would recommend keeping it simple.
Find the best ingredients and cook something simple, but cook it amazingly well. Do that, and I’m sure your night will be a huge success.’

The ingredients

Colin Clague: ‘Obviously cook what your partner really likes. Though I would try and put in a few ingredients from the so-called “aphrodisiac list”, like asparagus, champagne, oysters, gingers, caviar and strawberries, which are a great way to finish your meal.’

Chef Grant Murray: ‘I think caviar, fresh berries and lobsters are always good on any romantic night, and they have natural aphrodisiac qualities.’

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