'Never order crab' - dating tips from First Dates maitre'd Fred Sirieix

How to have a successful first date – by the man who knows

Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates
Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates
(Image credit: Rex)

As the smooth maitre'd of Channel 4's First Dates, Fred Sirieix has watched a lot of people crash and burn. We asked him for a few pointers.

Fred Sirieix has become the country's most famous maitre'd, thanks to his starring role on Channel 4's brilliant First Dates. But what has he learned from observing hundreds of couples meeting for dates in his restaurant every night? Here are his tips for a successful restaurant date.

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There's absolutely no excuse for turning up late

‘I like to say, “defer no time, delays have dangerous ends.” Being on time is so important; being early is better.’

For a quick escape, try tapas

‘A tapas restaurant is a good idea in case things don’t go according to plan. That way you can have two or three dishes and a glass of wine, then make your excuses. El Pirata of Mayfair is a great choice.’

Have a positive mental attitude

‘Jean-Paul Sartre said, “We have to act out the passion before we can feel it.” The most successful First Dates couples I’ve seen, like Jo and Naomi, were ready for that when they met. They saw the dessert in each other’s eyes.’

Don't order spaghetti or crab

‘Never order spaghetti with tomato sauce, because you will spill it on yourself, or crab in a shell that you have to get out yourself – it’s too much work. And nobody wants to have breath that smells like crab.’

Keep something of yourself back 

‘On the show, people sometimes arrive and immediately drop the biggest bombshell about themselves, with no background. It’s as if they’re desperate to say whatever it is because they’re afraid of the person finding out later down the line. I think it’s important not to put all of yourself on the table straight away.’

Don't set the sartorial bar too high

‘It’s good to be smart, but you don’t want to turn up to the first date like James Bond on duty, then the next date looking like you’re on a building site. Keep a balance and wear what you feel comfortable in – as long as that’s not jim-jams!’

Never assume he'll pay

‘Nowadays, women want equality, and expecting their date to pay goes against that. I think it’s so old fashioned. Everyone needs to pay their way. That’s very important.’

First Dates: The Art Of Love by Fred Sirieix is out now (£14.99, Penguin)

Lucy Pavia