Score real points with the ultimate gesture, writes Curtis Stone.

It’s easy to pull off a good date: pick the coolest restaurant in town, order a nice bottle of wine and swiftly take care of the bill. Women, however, aren’t impressed that easily. Whether you want to advance a new relationship or take a defibrillator to an existing one, nothing gets better results than a home-cooked meal (by you, of course).

Unlike that flash eatery, you’re not expected to be perfect, so relax. The napkins don’t have to be starched and the food doesn’t have to be gourmet. You just need to make an effort.

Drop some flowers in a vase, have her favourite wine or cocktail at the ready, and create a playlist beforehand that includes some of the songs she likes.

When planning the menu, think simple. Even if you’re a good cook, the romance is in spending time with her, not your stove. Choose something you can prepare in advance, such as a baked pasta dish or a pot pie — ideally, something you’ve made without burning it at least once before.

Make sure the table is set before she arrives and have some hors d’oeuvres ready to go — a good cheese platter is always a winner. If you need to add finishing touches to a dish before dinner, pull up a stool for her in the kitchen and hand her a glass of wine so she can be a part of it.

Whatever you serve, finish the meal with a chocolate dessert. It’s the sexiest food in the world. A flourless chocolate cake can be made the day before, or even store-bought.

Remember, the key to a great evening is staying relaxed. If you prepped ahead of time, you’ll be able to concentrate on what’s important — your date.

Golden Rule No. 1

When she offers to help you clean up, don’t accept. Whack the dishes in the sink and cover them with a tea towel. They can wait until morning.

Golden Rule No. 2

Turn off the TV. Honestly, there’s nothing on the box that’s more interesting than the person in front of you. That said, never organise a hot date on a State of Origin Wednesday.

Golden Rule No. 3

Avoid serving too much food. You don’t want to be unbuttoning your jeans as soon as dinner is finished. Well, not for that reason, at least.

Curtis Stone is a celebrity chef, author and TV host.