Want to raise the bar, and a glass, as you entertain at home?
Creative and hard-working culinary masters at hotels and resorts across America are experts at creating memorable experiences in their places of business — and now, some have shared their entertaining tips for the home front.
Executive chefs and other professionals know how to help deliver a relaxing vacation experience for guests at destinations all over the country, bringing the local flavor and cuisine to visitors in a memorable way.
With that in mind, here are their wise insights for those who are entertaining family, friends, neighbors and colleagues this summer and beyond.
Keep things streamlined
Don’t create a menu with dozens of ingredients, foods and drinks.
Instead, streamline your entertainment plan with a manageable menu.
Having a simple menu — so that guests aren’t overwhelmed with choices — is wise, said executive chef Rodney Rivera of the Historic Hotel Bethlehem in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
“Your guests will be much more impressed with a few outstanding items rather than many mediocre dishes,” he said.
Trying to plan, cook, set up and host your event at home shouldn’t be done in one day.
“On the day of your event, you should be building, heating and garnishing only.”
So, preparing your menu over a few days is a great strategy.
“On the day of your event, you should be building, heating and garnishing only,” said executive chef Timothy Wedell of Sheraton Grand Chicago Riverwalk in Chicago, Illinois.
Cold items like salads, dips, crudités and charcuteries can be fully built the day before, he said.
In addition, room-temperate items, such as canapés and salads can be built and garnished the day of the event, with the prep done one-to-two days early, said Wedell.
Save the day of the party for hot items, which he said can be roasted or fried and garnished on the day of, and plated with dipping sauces.
Plan your beverage selections carefully
Create a plan for potables, said Wedell.
“Batch out a cocktail that is on theme and make a complimenting mocktail for teetotalers,” he suggested.
For wine, choose one sparkling, two white, two red and a “wild card,” he said.
For beer, select one craft, one imported, one domestic and one light beer, he also suggested.
“This is a party, not a tavern,” said Wedell.
“Keep the options abundant but manageable.”
Choose seasonal ingredients
At this time of year, there is great stone fruit, berries and melons available from local markets, said executive chef Damon Gordon of Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica, California.
“It always tastes better when you shop local,” he said.
“Simple, classic dishes are always crowd pleasers.”
He recommended classic combinations such as burrata and heirloom tomatoes or melon with prosciutto.
“These are simple, classic dishes that are always crowd pleasers,” said Gordon.
“Keep the visual of the dishes colorful, using the abundance of colors in the product that is available.”
Use the grill
Use your grill and cook outdoors if possible, Gordon said.
Consider grilled fish with lemon and olive oil, he suggested.
Also, when grilling meats, allow the meat to temper before cooking.
And don’t season it too early, as this will extract the liquid from the protein, Gordon noted.
He also suggested creating a collaborative vibe.
“Serve all salads and vegetables family-style to promote community and fun while cooking and entertaining,” added Gordon.
Keep guests’ experience in mind
If your gathering is casual, Chef Kyung Soo Carroll, director of culinary operations at the five-star, five-diamond The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach, California, agreed the grill is a great choice.
“Do things off the grill, which doesn’t take a lot of preparation. People can also gather around and have conversations while [you’re] cooking,” Carroll said.
Picks for this type of get-together, he said, include individual steaks, marinated chicken breasts, shrimp and vegetables.
Continue promoting enjoyment for your guests.
“Set up a small bar area where people can make their own drinks and just have conversation,” he said.
Another hack: Serve with disposable plates, cutlery and cups for an easy clean up, Carroll recommended.
If your soirée is a sit-down, choose family-style, he said — that way, you’re not plating individually as the host or hostess.
Also, buy larger prime cuts of meat, since it’s easy and can feed a large group, he said.
Suggestions are prime rib, whole tenderloin, whole pork loin, composed salads and family-style vegetables and sides.
For dessert, opt for whole cakes or pies that you can buy from a local bakery, said Carroll.
Visit US Webstories for more such articles.