How To Cheat A Fabulous Dinner Party

Eat, Food Recipes / 12 December 2016
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How To Cheat A Fabulous Dinner Party

Eat, Food Recipes / 12 December 2016

Show off your dinner party skills with half the prep time!

My mum was the dinner party queen when we were growing up. She’d spend days preparing. Scouring the latest cookbooks for recipe inspiration, marinating the veal the night before, setting the crème caramels and getting the vegetables chopped and ready for the evening. She made it look so effortless and everything appeared to go off without a hitch. 

So with all of this exposure and genetic influence you’d think I had the dinner party thing in the bag by now. Six years of hosting successful Secret Foodies’ dinner parties proves some of my mother’s talent wore off but it’s a whole different ball game when you’re the one cooking. I love entertaining friends but I also love spending all day at the beach, sleeping in and actually enjoying wine with friends when they come round. So I love a good dinner party hack.

dinner party prep David Jones fresh range

A cheats guide to entertaining without the fuss.

David Jones recently launched a fresh prepared produce range for people just like me. I tested some of the range on a Christmas dinner party on my rooftop for six friends. Here’s how the day went.

10.00am- Woke up after a well deserved sleep in. 

12.00pm- Made my way to Milk Beach to meet friends for a swim

4.00pm- Left the beach and stopped off at David Jones Bondi Junction where I browsed the extensive wine selection to pick up some drinks for the dinner. With the help of a friendly staff member we brainstormed my dinner party and decided roast chicken with sides would be a nice choice. I always overestimate how much food I’ll need as I never want anyone to go hungry. I bought two semi-boneless chickens marinated in lemon garlic and white wine from the butcher section. Then I bought two packs (750g each) of kipler potatoes with garlic and herb butter, three containers of pre-prepared cauliflower and broccoli with cheddar cheese sauce and two packets of a colourful slaw made using shredded broccoli and kale. I grabbed a handy fresh Asian dressing for the slaw. Then a container of dark chocolate dipped strawberries for dessert.

dinner party with Ms Darlinghurst

6.00pm- I arrived home and instead of putting the kipfler potatoes and cauliflower and broccoli cheddar cheese dish in the microwave as recommended, which would have been super fast (and even easier) I baked them in the oven along with the chickens.

6.30pm- While everything was cooking I had a quick shower and got ready.

7.00pm- I put the slaw in a bowl, added the Asian dressing then set the table.

7.10pm- I got some glasses ready with ice and whipped up a few Aperol Spritz cocktails.

7.30pm- My guests arrived and were handed their welcome cocktail.

7.45pm- Everyone had arrived by now and were complimenting me on how delicious the house smelt. They took their seats and I presented everything before them with wine.

10.30pm- After hours of conversation and delicious food there is still lots of food left over. I definitely could have fed eight people including men with a big appetite. We retreated from the rooftop to the apartment for espresso martinis and those chocolate dipped strawberries.

11.00pm- Feeling pretty smug right now as everyone compliments me on dinner. Success! I’ve just cheated my way to a fabulous dinner party.


dinner party prep David Jones fresh range kipfler potatoes

dinner party prep David Jones fresh range broccoli kale slaw

What you need to know 

David Jones is already known for a luxurious, quality food experience. That oyster bar is always a hit! But their fresh prepared produce range in new and very forward thinking for the ever-increasing time-poor consumer in Sydney and Melbourne. They currently have 50 ‘fresh prepared’ fruit, vegetables, salads and dressings, and ‘on-the-go’ meal solutions. The fresh prepared range consists of the best quality produce, sourced from Australian farms where possible.

I was really surprised by how reasonable the price of everything was. I thought being a premium retailer David Jones was going to be really expensive. That being said, the entire meal excluding alcohol ended up costing me $20 per person. As I mentioned I could have fed eight which would have made the cost $15 per person.

The range is generally very healthy with a focus on fresh and seasonal produce. It’s still designed for people who love to cook but don’t always have the time to prepare a whole meal from scratch. It’s kind of like having a kitchen hand to help you with the time-consuming grunt work!

They’re dedicated to forging long term partnerships with suppliers so where possible they can source locally without compromising on flavour or freshness.

Most of the fresh vegetable range can be cooked in 5-7 minutes and come with delicious sauces to complement the vegetables. The cheddar sauce on our broccoli and cauliflower was delicious. I’m also keen to try the cauliflower rice.

David Jones have expand the range to introduce ready-to-eat salads and fresh fruit salads. It reminds me of Marks and Spencer in the UK- which I love! For years I’ve been hoping someone would bring a similar offering to Australian shores.

The current David Jones ‘fresh prepared’ convenience offering is available now in the Market Street and Bondi Foodhalls in Sydney and the Bourke Street Foodhall in Melbourne.



dinner party prep David Jones fresh prepared range Christmas table

dinner party prep David Jones fresh range cauliflower and broccoli


dinner party choc dipped strawberries espresso martini

Shopping List

From David Jones Market Street or Bondi Foodhalls in NSW or the Bourke Street Foodhall in Melbourne

  • Kipler potatoes with garlic and herb butter 750g ($11.95)
  • Cauliflower and broccoli with cheddar cheese sauce 350g ($8.50)
  • Brocolli and kale slaw 300g ($5.50)
  • Fresh Asian dressing 80ml ($4.30)
  • Semi-boneless chicken marinated in lemon garlic and white wine ($13.99/kg)
  • Dark chocolate dipped strawberries (5 for $7)

Total: $120 for up to 8 people ($15 per head)

From your local liquor store 

  • Aperol (approx $23)
  • 2 x Prossecco (any brand is fine) (approx $15/bottle)
  • Mr Black (approx $60)
  • Belvedere Vodka (approx $55)
  • Your favourite wine- pinot noir for red drinkers and chardonnay for white would go well with this meal. Or ask your friends to bring a bottle of their favourite drop to share

Total: Approx $170 for drinks without the wine (This will be enough for everyone to have 2 Aperol Spritz and at least 2 espresso martinis each )

This post is proudly sponsored by David Jones. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that make Eat Drink Play possible.