The surge of basic bakes to ambitious culinary endeavours being whipped up in family kitchens across the country during #LockdownLife, may mean that you’re running out of recipe inspiration (no more ripe bananas?), but don’t despair – get ready to reach for the remote and join South Africa’s favourite dinner party… Come Dine with Me South Africa is back!

After five successful seasons, Come Dine with Me South Africa  returns with an explosion of hilarious food prep blunders, saucy sabotage and peppery commentary from the legendary Dave Lamb. And if some of the more memorable moments over the past seasons are anything to go by – think pink dogs, spontaneously stripping guests and possible food poisoning fiascos to name only a few – then you can expect season six, which premieres on BBC Lifestyle (DStv channel 174), on Wednesday 27 May at 8pm,  to top it all.

With social distancing taking physical dinner parties off the table for the foreseeable future, the return of Come Dine SA is the perfect opportunity to gather your crew and create your own three-course viewing extravaganza. Enjoy these top tips to hosting a virtual Come Dine With Me inspired dinner party while you reconnect with family, friends, and even the occasional frenemy – all while putting those newly acquired kitchen skills to the test!


[divider]Find some interesting people[/divider]

If you’re going to throw a fun, slightly silly yet somewhat serious cooking competition, then getting together the right blend of personalities is just as important as the menu, to add some ‘spark’ or is it ‘spice’ to the evening. As a true Come Dine SAfan, you know that every good dinner party usually includes an overly confident novice, a picky eater, a wine ‘enthusiast’, a cocky know-it-all, a vibrant storyteller and a recipe modifier – so look out for a combination of characters to make your virtual dinner party truly Come Dine SA-esque!


[divider]Set the scene[/divider]

Create a mood with an exciting theme and encourage your guests to dress for the occasion. Since there’s no actual travel required, guests can use the time to spruce themselves up, even if they’re only focusing on the view from the waist up. There are so many fun themes to choose from – how about a mad hatters party or a travel theme inspired by the first city you’ll want to visit once travel bans are lifted – whatever you decide ensure there’s a shoutout for the guest with the most ‘sparkle’ on the night.

Plan the evening’s festivities – once the initial novelty has worn off, you’ll need to maintain the momentum and there’s nothing like some entertaining games to strike the right note. Think ‘never have I ever’, ‘two truths and a lie’, a fun quiz type game like Trivial Pursuit or Pictionary to bring out the artist within. And if it feels like there’s a bit too much ‘screen time’ – hit up your favourite playlist and get everyone off their chairs and dancing.


[divider]Step 2: Create a menu that Nigella would be proud of![/divider]

The goal is simple, allocate your guests to teams – either in groups or as solo players depending on your numbers. By the time your virtual dinner party starts – using one of your favourite video apps such as WhatsApp (for a more intimate affair), Google Hangout, Zoom (just don’t forget the time limit) or the increasingly popular, Houseparty – each of the ‘teams’ should have a set dinner table with three courses in front of them – a starter, main and dessert.

To achieve this, each team will need to decide on a menu. This is the moment your inner lockdown chef has been preparing for! To allow everyone to release their culinary crazy (read creativity), each team will be responsible for choosing and sharing a recipe and ingredient list for one of the three courses. Ahead of time, the host will nominate which team does which course.

Fancy pronunciations on a menu selection, which leave guests guessing what they will be served may provide a classic Come Dine With Me South Africa move but can quickly turn into a facepalm moment if your guests need to re-create the menu at home. So whether it’s a delicious Vichyssoise (that’s chilled potato & leek soup for the uninitiated) or a beautifully spiced Lamb Saag (which is really just a comforting family style Indian curry), while the ingredients may look familiar,  it’s how you pull it all together that determines if the final product will be a simmering success or an undercooked flop on the night.  For inspiration check out some of the recipes from past CDWMSA contestants to get those creative juices flowing –


[divider]Sometimes you just can’t win but someone has to![/divider]

Get ready to present your culinary creations to the world’s harshest (or most adoring) critics – your friends and family!  As guests won’t be able to sample the ‘fruits of your labour’, each team will need to sell their courses based on other categories such as appearance, execution, creativity or plating. Categories, points per category and penalties (if any) should be decided upon and shared with the group upfront – get creative! After each presentation round, one could create official scoreboards like the show which could be sent to the host to tally up anonymously. Although this is not essential, it’s probably for the best…


[divider]Spice up the competition[/divider]

The points are in and you’ve discovered that sometimes you just can’t win but someone has to! As the host you’ll be responsible for announcing the points and placements of each team. To create an umami flavour to your virtual dinner soirees and stir up some healthy competition, offer up a prize to the overall winners who will be crowned host/s with the most. While a R10 000 prize might be out of the question, a bottle of wine or a dinner in a restaurant post-lockdown may be enough to incentivize your fellow competitors to pull out all the stops – ensuring the night is one to remember!

Make Come Dine With Me South Africa part of your lockdown essential viewing and catch the premier of Come Dine with Me South Africa, BBC Lifestyle (DStv Channel 174) from Wednesday 27th May 8pm with repeats on Sundays at 5pm. The series will also be available on DStv Catch Up and DStv Now.