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Awarded "Runner up" in Highclere Castle's worldwide Downton Abbey themed dinner party competition.

Come and Dine Invitation.

We received the invitation above (Wednesday February 14th) to compete in the first ever worldwide "Come and Dine at Highclere Castle" competition. Which, once we decided to give it a go gave us eight days to put the evening together (our party was Saturday the 24th) just before the deadline.

“The competition entries will be judged by a panel of three judges based on the originality of the event concept, the level of skill and accomplishment in hospitality as judged by reference to the standard required for formal dinners at Highclere Castle and the level of enjoyment obvious from the participants of the event in the photographs and video clips submitted.”

So happy my BFF's (best friends forever) were all available on such short notice!

The invitation we created to send out to our guests was a Titanic themed boarding pass.

Our inspiration for the Come and Dine dinner party came from the Titanic connection that was quite relevant within the Downton Abbey saga. Julian Fellowes kept us enthralled with the opening show using the Titanic as the backdrop and the catalyst to the Crawley Family difficulties. In season two, he brings back the Titanic by introducing us to Patrick Gordon who claims to be the long-lost heir Patrick Crawley, again linking the ship to the story-line, and with Viking Cruises as partial sponsor this seemed like a fun idea ...and we can use a Titanic theme background.

It would also give us a wonderful opportunity to support our local PBS station (Public Broadcasting Service) with a party donation for each couple attending.

Livingroom before transformation. Come and Dine.
Livingroom during transformation. Come and Dine.
Diningroom after transformation. Come and Dine
Come and Dine Table setting.

Gerald does a careful measure following the spacing guidelines for a formal dinner.

Each guest was matched to a character from the Downton Abbey series.

As our guests arrived, we served a Pimm’s cocktail and the delicious Beetroot-cured Salmon canapés from Lady Carnarvon's book, while watching and discussing the very first episode of the PBS series.

Beetroot-cured Salmon canapés (At Home at Highclere)

I was inspired to combine three elements to my Downton Abbey dinner party. A wink to the Titanic as a backdrop, recipes from Lady Carnarvon’s new book ‘At home at Highclere’ and a surprise for my guests; an original Downton Abbey murder mystery, (how could I resist) that I’ve written to be played out during the course of the dinner. I can finally give Lady Mary and Mr. Pamuk another chance.

Lady Carnarvon’s recipes worked beautifully as I matched different ones from her book to create a similar menu that reflects the courses served in First Class aboard the Titanic 1912. Seafood Canapés A L’Amiral (Titanic) Beetroot-cured Salmon canapés (At Home at Highclere)

Consommé Olga (Titanic) Consommé Madrilene (At Home at Highclere)

Asparagus Salad (Titanic) Asparagus Mousse and spears (At Home at Highclere) Filet Mignon Lili (Titanic) Filet de Boeuf (At Home at Highclere) Potatoes Anna (Titanic) Potatoes Anna (At Home at Highclere) Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly (Titanic) Upside-down Peach Sponge (At Home at Highclere)

Consommé Madrilene (At Home at Highclere)

Asparagus Mousse and spears (At Home at Highclere)

Filet de Boeuf with Potatoes Anna (At Home at Highclere)

We created a few wine labels to add to the atmosphere.

Upside-down Peach Sponge (At Home at Highclere)

After dessert, we took our champagne into the "garage" where we had set up a green screen for a group portrait. The last time Gerald and I went to Vermont to support a PBS event there was a green screen (seems to be a fun extra at many of these events.) So we thought it would be fun to include one in our mini Downton themed PBS fundraiser.

Our home was alive with ragtime, dancing, delicious food, wonderful conversations and lot's of laughter along with the opportunity to support our local PBS station (Public Broadcasting Service) with a party donation for each couple attending.

Highclere Castle Come and Dine Dinner Party Competition

The Come and Dine competition was judged by

Lady Carnarvon - Highclere Castle

Karine Hagen from Viking Cruises

Andrew McKenzie from the Vineyard

WINNER: Tressa Lemky - Canada ............................................................................................ RUNNER UPS: Gary La Liberte - Canada Cherie Lynn Gould - USA Jennifer Haselgrove - Australia ............................................................................................ HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Helen Kain - Canada Victoria Allen - Canada Heather Freeman - Canada Kathleen Watson - USA Linda Whittlesey - USA Dawn Lovejoy - USA Angelina Wendt - Germany Joy Boruff - USA Bev Klesken - Canada Catherine Marie- Nikoltsos - Greece Sharon Landis - USA Barbra Cockerill - Canada Susan Bates - USA Darcie Leeder - USA Emma Collins - USA Henry Grimmick - USA Cathy Roach - USA Nathalie Taylor - USA Keith Rhyne - USA Julia Judkins - USA Margaret Kuska - USA Nicole El Zahr Dahmer - Canada Ann Ludvik - Canada Radine Klein - USA Carrie Turansky - USA Kristen Chandler - USA Lynn Hunt - USA Astrid Helen Nyborg Haugland - Norway Sandra Puckett - USA Cecilia Robart - USA Wendy Baker - USA Chad Vickers - USA Rebecca Armstrong - USA Shelly Siegel - USA Barbara Liston - USA Stacey Brown - USA Judy Smith - USA Laurie Chapman - USA Shila Hooshman Reyes - USA Bhavana Grover - USA Patti Harrington - USA Gerald Amyth - Scotland Elise Roberson - USA Diane Sanci - Canada Cathy Cumming - USA



Dear Gary, I’m so glad that the prize's have arrived and that you are as happy as we had hoped. It has been such a lovely competition getting so many people involved from all around the world. We thought your entry was so unique and special it deserved extra recognition. Very best wishes, Jonah

We received some wonderful prizes from Lady Carnarvon and Highclere for our runner up win in the Come and Dine competition. 1- A Highclere Castle print signed by the judges, 2 - A framed photo of Lord and Lady Carnarvon, 3 - A Highclere cooking apron and 4 - A lovely letter from Lady Carnarvon with an invitation to have tea with them the next time we are in London.

UPDATE Lady Carnarvon comes to Montreal

Fun afternoon meeting up with Lady Carnarvon (Countess Carnarvon) in Montreal from the Come and Dine at Highclere Dinner Party Competition. We had a lovely tea and chat about the Come and Dine Competition and her Vintage Garden Party which we had attended at her home; Highclere Castle in Newbury UK.

Her book "At Home at Highclere" is available on Amazon. We prepared seven of it's recipes for the competition.

Lady Carnarvon was in Montreal to continue her Canadian speaking tour at the Pointe-à-Callière museum. Her tour ends tonight in Toronto. The conference was titled Entertaining at the real Downton Abbey : Canadians at Highclere Castle.

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