Lawson: Courtesy photo. Garden: Patrick McMullan/Getty Images.
After their legions of fans, the line that wrapped around the block of the Kings Theater in Brooklyn, New York, were seated with wine in hand, Nigella Lawson and Ina Garten took the stage to enthusiastic applause. Lawson was in a fuchsia pantsuit and Garten was in all black with the collar unbuttoned, of course. That November night was the first time the two had met in person. The meeting was arranged as part of Lawson’s book tour for her latest cookbook of hers, cook, eat, repeat. The evening was billed as a “conversation” between the titans of home cooking, and coincidentally, Garten also has a new book: takeaway dinners.
Related: Nigella Lawson shares the comfort food dinner she makes on repeat
The two talked for over an hour and covered a wide range of topics, the most intriguing of which was their take on what a mistake you’re making when hosting a dinner party. Read on to find out what it is, plus over 5 other topics that caught our attention.
The #1 Mistake You’re Making When Hosting a Dinner Party
You spend too much time cooking. “The host needs to be part of the party,” Garten says, and Nigella advises, “The mix of people is the most important. If the best thing you can talk about is the food, it’s not a good night. You want the food.” to be charming, but it’s there for everything else.”
Lawson and Garten, who got into the food media business at least in part because they love a good dinner, suggest that you don’t try to impress with the food, but keep it simple and cook what you want to eat. And keep courses to a minimum so you’re not cleaning and re-setting the table and wiping down all night. “I hate clearing the table,” says Ina, who likes to keep her dinner on one plate: the main course. However, she will allow one side dish, such as an easy salad or cheese plate or dessert.
“Dishwashing is harder than cooking,” Lawson says, and “things that can’t be washed in the dishwasher can wait. I can sleep with a messy kitchen. I’m a big soaker of things.” Thus, not only reduce the complexity of what you are cooking and dishes, but also relax and enjoy time with your guests.
When creating a guest list, both women say to keep it to six to eight people and “pick people who you know will enjoy each other’s company,” says Garten.
Lawson prefers very casual dining: “PJs, socks, and no makeup—if you like that, come to my dinner. I’ve barely moved beyond elastic waistbands and Birkenstocks.” They were in!
However, the two disagreed on whether or not to play music during a dinner party. Garten likes to have some music, but Lawson says, “I can’t make music except when I’m cleaning the disco.” But they were both in agreement about the cocktails. When Garten said that a dinner party needs “good cocktails,” the audience cheered. Lawson suggested making cocktails as easy as possible by making them ahead of time and using a pitcher or pitcher so guests can help themselves.
5+ Other things that caught our attention
1. Lawson & Garten’s perfect day, respectively
“I like lonely days,” Lawson says. A great day for her starts with a cup of tea and then goes straight back to bed, possibly to check Twitter. After that, she’s ready to try some bread. Then it’s time to get some exercise (via Zoom) with “Eric the Viking”, her Swedish trainer. “I used to go to yoga and I don’t do jumping jacks, so now I do weights,” says Lawson. Then it’s back to bread for her second climb, followed by a sprawl on the couch with some more tea, deciding what to do next: “Read? Walk? No, I’ve already worked out. You practically have to wheelbarrow me around to Get me out of the house.”
On the other hand, Ina says she’s more of a morning person and likes to be “over” at 1 pm “I like to follow my nose and not have anything to do.”
2. Favorite dish you have in common
Coincidentally, both Lawson and Garten have the same dish they turn to when they need a simple and satisfying dinner: one pot chicken. Garten’s version uses dill and saffron, while Lawson’s uses chili flakes, tarragon, and lemon. Both use orzo that is cooked in the same pot with the chicken. “Everything should be basted with chicken fat,” says Lawson.
3. Lawson & Garten’s All-Time Favorite Desserts
Garten’s two favorite desserts arrived at his To go book. The chocolate tart was inspired by chef Erin French’s Maine restaurant and her Magnolia Network television show of the same name, the lost kitchen. As you know, he also likes the cake, which he thinks is “really fantastic.”
Lawson also loves simple cakes, or what she calls “cut and start over cakes,” rather than fancy cakes. “I like calm, comforting cakes with simple flavors like lemon zest and vanilla.” How will you know if you have his book? Feasther absolute favorite cake in this style is the lemon meringue.
4. A disagreement over Thanksgiving spreads
One comment that caused an audible level of shock in the crowd was Garten’s statement that “I don’t like to stuff turkey; instead, I make a savory bread pudding.” Which is fine with us and Lawson too, but they disagreed with the salad. “Salad is my least favorite for Thanksgiving,” says Garten, while Lawson said a bitter green salad makes a nice contrast to the usual dishes found on the holiday table, and we agree! !
Related: 6 Delicious Menus for Anything You Do Thanksgiving
5+ other things
Here are a few more things that came up in the conversation that we thought you might like to know:
The cocktail Garten had never had before this year: a martini, which he drank at 9am with Stanley Tucci for his show Looking for Italy.
The kitchen chore Lawson can’t handle: Peeling garlic.
Best thing Jeffrey cooks, according to Garten: Coffee.
Lawson’s most amused thing about American cooking: bacon as a garnish.
Technique you should never use, according to Garten: Drinking wine while using a mandolin.
Lawson’s favorite midnight snack: sourdough baguette oozing with blue cheese.
Favorite Shows: Garten Clocks borgin, the lost kitchen Y The crown. Lawson currently loves The company.
Favorite Restaurants: Garten’s favorite New York restaurants are Laser Wolf, Lilia and Misi. Lawson’s favorite restaurant in London is River Cafe.
And if you’re wondering if the dynamic duo will ever appear on stage together again, the answer is most likely yes. After Garten confirmed to the audience that it was their first time meeting in person, Lawson chimed in: “You’re stuck with me for life.” We also!
Related: 24 Ina Garten recipes that we cannot stop making