A cuppa with…. Henry Conway.

A cuppa with…. Henry Conway.

Host with the most, Henry Conway, loves to entertain. We sat down for tea and biscuits at his elegant London home to pick up his top tips on throwing a memorable bash. 

How do you like your tea?

I like my tea strong and very milky - and always served in nice antique silverware.

How many cups a day?

I drink four cups of tea a day; I am a proper tea wife!

If you could have a cuppa with anyone, who would they be?

I would have loved to have tea with Oscar Wilde - I think that would have been wonderful.

And who is the most random person you ever sat next to at dinner? 

Brian May from Queen, who was wonderful. Although he did go on about badgers for the entire dinner - but I loved him, he’s a legend. Adored him!

What’s the secret to entertaining in style?

My number one rule for entertaining in style is: make people comfortable.I think that’s the most important thing. And then just have everything on hand: if you have done your prep work, then you can relax into it. 

What’s the most memorable evening you ever hosted? 

The most outrageous dinner party I ever threw was Surrealist-themed, based on Salvador Dali’s cookbook [Les Diners de Gala, 1973]. Every single thing on the menu that night was gilded: we used edible gold leaf and it was on everything - starter, main course, pudding, chocolates at the end. It was glorious. 

What’s your failsafe dinner menu? 

My go-to dishes are a stew, or coronation chicken - but I am a huge fan of making pudding! Apple Charlotte, bread & butter pudding, anything with cream and custard basically.

Can you share a dinner party trick?

I give everybody liqueurs after dinner and then make them play the After Eight game: you need to balance an After Eight chocolate on your forehead, and then wiggle it down your nose and get it into your mouth. And it’s chaos and everyone giggles

How do you keep the conversation flowing? 

Have some conversation pieces on the table. I quite often decorate in a ridiculous way with things like a poodle sculpture or a small horse.

What makes an evening a success?

It’s definitely about the right mix of people. And make sure you have your music keyed up beforehand, because there is nothing worse than silence. My playlist starts off with Motown or some vintage Italian music from the 1960s, and then it progressively gets a little bit heavier as the evening goes on. By pudding, you wanna play disco - because, after pudding, you want people to dance.