Cooking is a special gesture! Think about how intimate, time consuming, and memorable it is for someone to share this talent (or developing talent) with you. More than likely, if someone is willing to cook for you, they are willing to share their space with you; in other words they are comfortable enough with your presence to invite you into their home.
If you know someone is preparing a dinner for you, it is in good taste to bring something with you, such as a bottle of wine, perhaps some flowers, or dessert. This shows that you are considerate.
It is also a good idea to let the in-house chef know what your allergies or medical dispositions are. It would be terrible shame for them to create a 5 course meal and you are not able to eat any of it because they used peanut oil in all of the dishes.
If they prepare something that doesn’t necessarily agree with your palate, be courteous and at least try a bite or two of whatever it is that they have created. Remember, it is the sentiment behind the gesture that counts. Highlight all the positives and if possible avoid talking about what you disliked, unless confronted. In this case, it is ok to communicate that you are unaccustomed to whatever it is that they have cooked and opt to eat other items they have prepared. Be sure to be sensitive to the other person’s feelings in letting them how much you enjoyed the meal.
Have a couple topics to bring up over dinner in the back of your mind to keep lines of communication open. Avoid, politics and religion unless you are in the mood for low grade confrontation, or you are aware that your positions are the same for both topics. Being ready with conversation topics is a good idea to avoid long spots of awkward silence… unless the food is so good that the silence is called for.
Lastly, ask if the meal is themed. Are you supposed to dress up? Is it a casual dinner? Is it a stilleto or flip flop kind of party? You don’t want to show up in your best shoes and a form fitting dress when he answers the door in jeans and a t-shirt.
Armed with the above, you should be more than ready to attend a special invite dinner. Most important of all, bring your smile and personality. It’s the best thing you can bring to the table! Enjoy!