So You Want to Host a Dinner Party
Mar 20, 2015
By Chef Robert Schlosser
Here are some things you should know about designing a menu and preparing the right amount of food.
It is always a good idea to start with a theme of some kind. That way you have a jumping off point and the ideas can roll on from there. Once you have picked a theme think about what you would want to serve the guests as they arrive, a variety of three is a good way to go. Pick two traditional items like hummus and pita and shrimp cocktail. But then find one that will be unique (not necessarily expensive), such as prosciutto and Pecorino Romano wrapped in puff pastry or fried goat cheese with pomegranate and caramelized onion. Remember, most guests will arrive hungry and will want to try all that is available during the early stages of the party. Have at least 3 of each hors d’oeuvre prepared for each guest.
Next you will need to decide on the entrée. There are a few ways to go. You could have buffet service, convenient because many parts of the meal can be made ahead, but there also is more work and, likely, more leftovers. Then there is a dinner service where your guests could sit down and enjoy salad, entrée and dessert. But I think my favorite way to entertain (if the group is not too big, and your kitchen can accommodate them) is to gather in the kitchen and get everyone involved. Prepare the time consuming chores in the afternoon and then you can enjoy the party with your guests, instead of running from room to room. Just be sure to choose something for dinner that all of your friends will enjoy, you do not want to be serving bouillabaisse and find out at the last minute that two of your guests have a shellfish allergy.
Finally, dessert. Best to go with something small, but memorable. I suggest something like assorted chocolate truffles or your signature cookie. Two or three for each person will suffice after a big meal. Finally, whatever you decide to serve, accompanying your food with some nice wines is always a way to liven up the party and induce the social interaction we are all looking for.