Photo by Cinnamon Cooper.

If you provided food for your dinner party by slaving over a hot phone all day, nobody need ever know — as long as you’re in the U.K., and within delivery range of Housebites. The company charges the equivalent of about 8 bucks to deliver dirty dishes and cooking utensils along with your food, so that you can stage realistic-looking kitchen carnage and convince your guests you’re a devoted chef.

Housebites is actually a fairly staggering idea, for those of us who are useless in the kitchen. The service lets you link up with a local (fully vetted and taste-tested!) chef working in your area, and choose from among his or her specialties. It’s not the only gourmet food delivery service out there, though it’s the only one I’ve seen with such a range of chef options. But as far as I know, it’s the only one that helps you organize a grand ruse so people don’t know you don’t cook.

The service is prosaically called “Pretend You Cooked,” and it provides all the props you’ll need to do just that. And yes, Housebites picks the dirty dishes back up again afterwards — but if you do the washing-up, they’ll refund half of your fake-dish fee. I recommend instituting some kind of “I cooked, you clean” deal with your grateful guests.

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