Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Dinner Ladies; Serve It with Flowers: Victoria Cator (Left) and Lucinda Bruce

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Dinner Ladies; Serve It with Flowers: Victoria Cator (Left) and Lucinda Bruce

Article excerpt

Byline: Sophia Money-Coutts

THINKING back over the times I've invited people for dinner, I recallburnt spaghetti, raw shepherd's pie and the evening my friend James wasdespatched to McDonald's at midnight to buy 10 quarter-pounders because myguests were all so hungry.

My friends' subsequent pleas ("Why don't we meet at a restaurant instead?") nowseem outdated, thanks to these credit-crunching timeseating out is an unnecessary expense. But being less domestic goddess thankitchen dunce, I need help.

Enter Lucinda Bruce and Victoria Cator, old friends who met while living inHong Kong in the Eighties and who are set to become glamorous kitchen pin-upsfollowing the launch of their new recipe book, Flavour of the Month.

Twelve sections are divided into months with seasonal food suggestions for eachmeal lunches, tea-times and dinners.

And alongside the food, with pretty illustrations (and who bothers with acookery book that doesn't have inviting pictures?), are suggestions for floraltable decorations, with Victoria and Lucinda cooking in pristine white shirts.

The book signals a reinvention of homemaking; a celebration of the cosy ethosof Martha Stewart. Both women, married and in their forties, revel inentertaining, and as Victoria runs her own interior design business she has theflair for matching flowers with food.

Combined with Lucinda's background in professional cooking, they make a kind ofdomestic Trinny and Susannah.

(Friends of theirs, coincidentally.) It could seem a bit twee, or perhaps toofinishing school, but the concept is welltimed.

"Dining in and entertaining at home is absolutely the new going out," Lucindasays. "You can be just as stylish at home, but with good, simple food." "And itsuits the dysfunctional nature of family life," Victoria adds. "It encourageseverybody to sit at the table and talk." With several children between them,both prefer to stay at home (Norfolk for Victoria, Wiltshire for Lucinda) andcook for family or friends.

All very well, but timing is the problem with cooking for most franticLondoners.

"Well, we've deliberately made the recipes as simple as possible," answersLucinda. …

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