Tell us your dating disaster and you could win a Michelin-starred meal for two

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Planning the perfect date with a new partner can be stressful as there’s a lot to worry about, including, of course, whether you will get on and if you will make a good impression.

To help people avoid their dream date becoming a Valentine’s nightmare, the FSA has teamed up with Made in Chelsea man-about-town, Hugo Taylor, to share some top-tips for romantic success.

Made in Chelsea man-about-town, Hugo Taylor

Made in Chelsea man-about-town, Hugo Taylor

Hugo Taylor said: “I know how important it is to make the right impression. There’s lots to think about when planning a good date, and making sure the restaurant you’re booking meets a good food hygiene standard means you can have peace of mind. One of the easiest ways to do that is to look before you book – it’s easy to check on your phone and means you can focus on having a good time with your date.”

Catriona Stewart, head of the Food Hygiene Ratings Team at the Food Standards Agency, said:

“On Valentine’s Day people are focused on making sure that special lunch or dinner goes well and that they make a good impression with their date. We want them to factor in the food hygiene rating when deciding where to go and then enjoy their romantic meal out.”

The Food Standards Association gives consumers information about hygiene standards in food outlets so that they can make informed choices and also to drive up hygiene standards in food businesses.

The Hygiene Ratings Scheme covers businesses supplying or serving food direct to consumers such as restaurants, takeaways, cafés, pubs, hotels, schools, hospitals, care homes, supermarkets and other retailers.

The six hygiene ratings range from zero (which signifies that urgent improvement is required) to five stars, signifying a score of very good.

The scheme is designed so that all businesses, no matter how small, can achieve the top rating by meeting the legal requirements. It aims to reduce the incidence of foodborne illness. It is estimated that around 500,000 cases of foodborne illness occur every year.

Here are Hugo’s top tips to make sure your night is a success, whether you’re trying to impress on a hot date or are celebrating with your loved one:

1. Find an outfit

Make sure you’re looking your best by getting that all-important dress or suit professionally cleaned or going shopping for something new ahead of the big night. First impressions are important.

2. Think ahead and book your restaurant/venue in advance

Valentine’s is one of the biggest days of the year for and special venues usually get booked up weeks ahead of February 14.

3. Don’t forget to check the food hygiene rating

You can’t tell a restaurant’s hygiene standards by how clean and tidy the staff look or by the ambience or quality of the romantic décor. Luckily, it’s really simple to check. Just go to the Food Standards Agency’s website: www.food.gov.uk/ratings or if you’re out and about look for the green and black ratings sticker. Remember, if you can’t see a sticker, ask the staff. Over 90% of food businesses are rated a 3 or above so there are plenty of places with good food hygiene standards to choose from. This means you can easily avoid taking your special date to those places not meeting the grade.

4. Watch what you order

When ordering food make sure your choices are not too messy. You’re not going to look very sophisticated with melted butter dribbling down your chin. Also be mindful of your alcohol intake – you don’t want your night to end earlier than you’d hoped!

5. Turn your mobile off

Pay attention to your date. Don’t constantly check your mobile phone. That text message or Facebook post can wait until you’re home . Step away from the phone and focus on what is important - your dinner date.

6. And finally, have fun and be yourself!

Tell Us Your Biggest Dating Disasters

Got a story about a truly terrible date? Want a free meal in Sheffield’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, which also boasts a top hygiene rating?

The Food Standards Agency are encouraging everyone to ‘look before you book’ your Valentine’s Day meal this year to make sure you have not only a great meal out but also a safe one, and as part of campaign, The Star is asking people to tell us their ‘dating disasters’.

Maybe you’ve been stood up, or left red-faced after a booking has been cancelled by accident. We want to know!

Our favourite dating disaster will win a free post-Valentine’s Day meal for two at The Old Vicarage at Ridgeway, Sheffield, which has a Michelin star and the five hygiene rating – the highest rating achievable.

Simply write or email in to tell us about your dating disaster in no more than 250 words by the closing date of February 10, 2015. Don’t forget to include your name, address and telephone numbers.

The prize consists of a £100 gift voucher which can be used either for lunch (£80 for 2 plus drinks) or for use towards the cost of dinner, when booking at the Old Vicarage, Ridgeway (bookings are subject to restaurant availability). Usual SNL rules and data terms apply.


Post: StarCompVALENTINE, Jane Salt, The Star, York Street, Sheffield S1 1PU

Email: staronline@sheffieldnewspapers.co.uk with StarCompVALENTINE in the subject field. Don’t forget to include your name, address and telephone numbers.