—Claudia Perry, Evanston
"My first thought was also the cooking school gift certificate as a 'thank-you' for all the times they've hosted dinner parties, although carefully framed as 'I know how much you love to cook, so I thought you'd enjoy this!' Or perhaps an offer to help share the work next time they're prepping for a dinner party, while strategically (and politely) offering tips throughout the process to make the dishes more successful? Collaborative dinners are always fun, and they minimize the amount of cooking the host has to do themselves!" —Emmanuel Nony, owner, Sepia
"As per my ebullient personality (or at least that is what I have been told), I would take a softer, more caring approach and ask if they wanted me to help them prepare dinner. Make it a fun little experience of showing good technique, etc. If that doesn't work, I would politely decline. Nothing sadder than a tough soft shell, my friend." —Joncarl Lachman, chef-owner, Vincent, HB Bistro
"Set them up with a personal chef for the day and have them host a dinner for the evening, make it a fun day and a memorable evening for everyone so this memory will always stick with them. This may be expensive, but worth it in the long run." —Giuseppe Tentori, executive chef, Boka, GT Fish & Oyster
Do you have a question about food or drink? E-mail Bill Daley at: email@example.com. Snail mail inquiries should be sent to: Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago 60611. Twitter @billdaley.
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