Chefs know a thing or two about making good food, but they also know how to make an event of it. Whether it’s their own restaurant, a party or cooking for the family, chefs have all the tricks for creating a delicious, fun – and somehow – relaxing experience.
While creating a fabulous meal – not to mention the cocktails and elegant place settings – the chef seems poised (how are they not sweating?!) and always has everything ready by the time the guests arrive. Ask any chef and I’m sure he or she will tell you it’s far from perfect, but they sure make it look great – and you can too. It’s all about what happens way before the guests arrive. These organization tips will get you ready for the second your guests arrive.
Plan a Menu
You might find it frustrating when your sister-in-law sends out a holiday menu a month in advance, but it really is necessary to plan ahead, even if it’s more like a week. You might consider produce that are in season, picking one style or theme to follow for the dishes, and you should consider the time it will take to make the dishes you’ve chosen, and what part of the kitchen you’ll be working in. If all of your dishes require an oven – it may be worth reconsidering some choices.
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
Planning a menu also means establishing a gameplan. If you’ve chosen a dish that you’ve never made before, it may be worth practicing first. Decide which things can be cooked ahead of time (saucy dishes develop more flavor over time!) and what can be chopped or prepped in advance. A cooking schedule might seem crazy to you, but keeping track of what dishes have been made and what time things have to go in the oven will help you be ready by the time your guests arrive, which reminds us: you can set the table or arrange any dishware the night before to get it out of the way.
Variety, but not Too Much
As much as it pains us not to have a whole lineup of great wines, you really need to stock up on just one or two wines (a white and a red will do). The same goes for beer and cocktails, keep it to one or two. Your guests don’t need a whole bar, and if they don’t find something they like, then they are a guest you’ll never please and shouldn’t bother even trying.
Keep it Simple
This goes for the whole night. You and your guests should be able to enjoy the party with ease. Remember that one great dish can go a long way. You don’t necessarily have to prepare a table-long feast for everyone to be satisfied, but serving buffet or family style is a great idea!
Sit Down and Throw a Few Back
Being the chef (and host) is supposed to be fun. Organize and prepare as much as you can so that you enjoy the occasion as much as your guests. And then pray that everyone pitches in with clean up…