I knew all those teenage years watching Julia Child’s televised wizardry in the kitchen would pay off.

Via countless viewings of onion soup and salad Nicoise preparation, I learned some valuable cooking skills that I put into practice. Later on, I got some skeptical looks when I offered make dinner for my dates. But after the dishes were cleared, I am certain I ticked off a few boxes on my female guest’s checklist.

Getting To Know You

After the initial showoff stage, cooking for my matches became an instructive experience. The women I entertained got to learn a lot about me – much more than just my prowess in the kitchen. Offering to prepare a meal showed I was generous and caring, had a wide range of interests, and enjoyed learning. By making dining the central part of a relaxed homebound date, I also discovered that you find out more about a person talking over a home-cooked meal as opposed to the stilted environment of a restaurant. Your date’s food preferences can tell you a lot about their personality – not to mention their table manners.

Whether you are a man with limited cooking skill (there are always Blue Apron meal kits) or a woman with a degree from the CIA (not the spy place, the Culinary Institute of America), there are some key dos and don’ts when it comes to rustling up some grub for your date.

DO Ask About Preferences

When making an invite to cook for your date, politely ask whether he or she has any dietary restrictions, such as being vegetarian or vegan, or food allergies or sensitivities. Chief among these concerns is whether your guest is kashrut. Unless you keep kosher, and have some great kosher recipes under your belt, it would be wise to look to Yelp for a suggestion on kosher restaurants or takeout for your time together.

Ask if your date prefers red or white wine with his or her meal. This is a smart play, because it’s a safe way to find out if your guest doesn’t drink. Refusing a glass of wine at someone’s home can be embarrassing to someone, who for health or other reasons, avoids alcohol.

DON’T Make A Heavy Meal

In your menu prep, avoid foods that can cause gas or stomach distress such as Brussels sprouts, beans, broccoli and cabbage. Nothing can turn a pleasant night together upside down more than having to constantly excuse yourself to seek the refuge of the bathroom.

DO Nail The Timing

Cooks know that entertaining is as much about staging as it is sautéing and frying. Make sure most of your dishes are finished before your date arrives. Leave a few tasks, such as serving the salad, for after you’ve had a nice glass of break-the-ice wine.

DON’T Refuse Help

If your date asks to help serve or clean up, say yes. It may be difficult to think of standing side by side washing dishes as an intimate act, but trust me, many a first kiss takes place by the kitchen sink.

Be forewarned: if your dinner invite leads to a permanent match, your beshert may expect you to take on all the kitchen duties. Take it from experience – that’s a good thing.

You may also be interested in Working With Your Partner To Come Up With Fresh Ideas For Date Night

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