Forget The Ritz. It’s now easier than ever for shoppers to bring a little glitz and culinary glamour to their own living room dining, says Gaelle Walker

Adecade ago the nation was glued to a TV scheduling smorgasbord of home improvement programmes, DIY and decorating disasters. A few years later our fingers turned green as we were transfixed by lawns, Leylandii and, of course, the lovely Charlie Dimmock and her, er, water features. And a quick flick through the current TV guide makes it clear that today, the kitchen is definitely where it’s at.

Left, right and centre, consumers are being inspired to cook impressive ‘Meals in 30 minutes’ and ‘Come Dine’ with each other. And that’s just on the telly. The internet is also awash with cookery sites, recipe ideas and food pairings increasingly from the food brands themselves. Premium wine brand Hardys is a case in point. The Come Dine With Me sponsor is helping to fuel the trend by encouraging consumers to interact with Hardys via Channel 4’s first ever iPhone app and new website,, which features food and wine pairing suggestions, recipes and wine-tasting tutorials.

Top dinner party

1970s MENU 
Starter Prawn cocktail (59%)
Main Roast Dinner (13%) Dessert Black Forest gâteau (19%) 

1980s MENU 
Starter Prawn cocktail (23%) 
Main Duck a l’Orange (9%) 
Dessert Black Forest gâteau (19%) 

1990s MENU 
Starter Smoked salmon (20%) 
Main Salmon en croûte (10%) 
Dessert Profiteroles (14%) 

2000s MENU 
Starter Bruschetta (20%)  Main Fajitas (20%) Dessert Crème brûlée (13%) Tiramisu (13%)

Premier Foods’ Great Little Ideas website is also going great guns, and Kraft is continuing to cause a stir with its ‘Love it’ campaign, giving consumers even more inspiration on how to use the soft cheese brand within recipes. The brand has launched an iPhone app so that shoppers can get Philly recipes and put together a shopping list on the go.

As the nation’s culinary confidence rises and bank balances remain flat, the trend towards dining in with style looks set to stick for the foreseeable future, says Brown Brothers Wines.

“Home entertaining is becoming an increasingly popular choice for celebratory occasions, and 2011 will provide numerous opportunities for retailers to capitalise on this, whether it’s annual celebrations such as Valentine’s Day, or unique events such as the Royal Wedding,” says European sales and marketing director Gail Gilbert.

It’s certainly great news for the UK’s grocery retailers, and its food and drink manufacturers who aren’t planning any let-up in the rate at which they turn out new premium products, helping to keep the experience as appetising as possible.

Tyrrells is one of these frenetic producers. The company launched two posh new flavours roast lamb & Shrewsbury sauce potato chips, and parsnip chips with rosemary into the independent retail trade at the tail end of last year. They joined a new range of ridged crisps, Tyrrells Furrows, and the innovative Proper Popcorn.

Heineken also relaunched Kronenbourg 1664 with a new ‘Draught Systeme’ in the latter stages of 2010. It claims the system allows drinkers to experience “premium quality draught beer in the comfort and convenience of their own homes.”

Carlsberg is taking a different track, opting to launch even more stylish branded glassware throughout this year to help make the “socialising at home” phenomenon even more cracking. 

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