As you probably guessed, I love to entertain. Sharing good wine and scrumptious food with friends and loved ones is one of my favorite things. At many of these gatherings, I am often asked how I prepare. One word. Planning. After I have figured out the guest list and type of event, I will then decide on a theme. I love to plan around a theme, however loose. It just helps bring everything together. A theme aids in mapping out the menu, choosing a featured cocktail, pairing the wine, etc. Have fun with it and use it only as a guideline. I often will pick a dish I want to make and devise my theme around that, or seasonal cuisine, or type of cuisine, really, whatever you wish.
Once you have your guest list, type of event and theme defined, you can start laying out the menu. Usually, I try to go over my recipes to see how long everything will take, figure out what I can make in advance and how I can multi-task my cooking and then devise a rough time table for myself. Often, I will even pull out the serving dishes I want to use in advance. This makes it easy and quick to transfer the food to serving ware without last minute decisions and having to pull out everything in my cabinet to get to the one dish I need while chatting with my guests.
Another thing I have learned to do is be dressed and ready to go well ahead of time. Once I am ready, then I do the last minute things: Lay out the appetizers, prepare the drinks, lighting, music and any last minute prep work for dinner. I aim to have all this completed before my first guest arrives – it keeps me from running around in the kitchen at the last minute and I can instead spend that time when my guests first arrive socializing with them.
I try to prep as much as I can beforehand. Always attempting to include as many dishes as possible that can be prepared or mostly prepared in advance. This way when your guests arrive, you can spend your time relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. Your attention can be focused where it should be – on your guests.
Planning is part of the fun and ensures a great event whether you are throwing a party, having friends over for dinner, hosting a brunch, or even a small luncheon on the patio.