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

September 30, 2018

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.

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 with great friends along with a party donation to PBS: Public Broadcasting Service

     Highclere Castle Come and Dine
    Dinner Party Competition 2018


    The Come and Dine competition was judged by

    Lady Carnarvon - Highclere Castle

    Karine Hagen from Viking Cruises

    Andrew McKenzie from the Vineyard



    Tressa Lemky - Canada

    Gary La Liberte - Canada
    Cherie Lynn Gould - USA
    Jennifer Haselgrove - Australia

    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,


    We received some wonderful prizes from Lady Carnarvon and Highclere for our runner up win in the 2018 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.


    2019 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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