Part cupid, part seasoned high-end restaurant manager, Fred Sirieix is as crucial to the success of Channel 4’s First Dates as stiff drinks and loose conversation.
Imparting his charm on a regular basis, this suavely dressed Frenchman - General Manger at Galvin at Windows and creator of The Art of Service when not on the telly - not only helps align the stars for daters about to get lucky, but also offers a supportive shoulder to those who aren't.
With this in mind, and knowing how awkward first dates can be, we phoned the man himself to ask just what the most common mistakes made by men on dates are - and, crucially, how to fix them.
True to form, he was great, even ending our conversation with the line: “Hope it was as good for you as it was for me."
The absolute charmer.
Sirieix is helping OpenTable launch a menu jargon buster to deconstruct some of the trickiest foodie terms at Opentable.co.uk
Not dressing to impress
"Looking good and smelling good will set the tone for the first impression you make. Of course if you’re grungy and your date is grungy, then perhaps you don’t want a top hat and cane but there’s nothing stopping you wowing them by smartening up a little. Don't turn up scruffy."
Getting too pissed beforehand
"I know in some parts of England they say ‘eating is cheating’, but getting drunk before the date, which may lead to dancing as Anna did with us on one episode, is just a no-no. Save the spirits until last and start easy on the booze. Opening with a nice cold beer works – I’d recommend a Kernel if the restaurant has it – and if you absolutely do need the hard stuff, a whisky sour will suffice."
"A woman can show up late as she thinks it’s fashionable, there’s a romance to it. A man cannot. Not being punctual is a bad trait, so if you are delayed – big cities can be tough for travel in the evenings – then call your date or else leave a message for her at the restaurant."
"You go on the date. You stay for another drink. You end up in bed together. Then you maybe you have a future together. Who knows? But if you are dishonest about anything on the first date - and people can be - then it sets a bad precedent for the months, or years, to come. Don't lie too much."
Assuming the man pays all of the bill
"It’s 2015 - soon to be 2016 - why would a man pay and not a woman? It’s an equal world out there – it’s 50/50, so to expect the man to pay, as Elle on First Dates did recently, is wrong. That said, Marc didn't come out of it that well himself. If you want to offer to pay it all, rather than split it, that’s fine. Preconceptions like these are killing dates because people incorrectly expect something which has no reason for being. On First Dates, like in real life, there is no such thing as the norm – we have black, white, gay, straight, transgender people all dating. Let’s live with the times."
Flummoxing over the menu
"I see many people on dates get unsettled by the menu, because ordering badly or mispronouncing a dish could be construed as lacking confidence, lacking knowledge, or being someone who doesn’t go out enough. It can make you lose your self-esteem and confidence. It’s key to be confident with yourself, so if you’re prone to similar hang-ups, why not use Google to look at the menu ahead of time? One quick look and boom - you know what to order, what to say, and you look like a dating Demigod."
Having tunnel vision
"Viewers of First Dates may remember recent guest Georgia from Newcastle, a very sweet girl who was stood up at the bar where she struck up an attraction with Alex, a guy also waiting on a date. In the end, Alex was a very honourable man and went on his original date, but when he realised it wasn’t going well, he could have gone over and got Georgia’s number. I’m not saying blatantly or with his date watching on, but there will have been a way he could have done it without hurting anybody and by being honourable. He let the chance go. He was nice because he was nice, if you know what I mean, but he could have killed two birds with one stone. She might have been the one who got away."
Treating the staff badly
"Impressing your date doesn’t isn’t just about how you treat them but also others around you: the waiters, the receptionist, the barman etc. You are going to have to engage with others and so it’s important you treat people well. Jamie Lang who was on the Celebrity First Dates was amazing because he’s got an ability to engage with people at every single level, and makes people feel good. That is key to having a great time."
Not going with the moment
"On First Dates, some couples have fed each other. Just one of a number of things some people do in dates to show intimacy, and if your date is inviting you to be playful or come out of your comfort zone, go with the flow. Who knows, it could be an important decision."
Constantly using your phone
"Updating your Facebook status? If you can’t give someone your full undivided attention then you don’t want to be sat at that table. Even if they’re not the one, playing on your phone isn’t the done thing."
Fred was speaking to us to promote OpenTable, which has launched a helpful menu jargon buster to deconstruct some of the trickiest foodie terms; Opentable.co.uk