Your home doesn’t need to look prepared to be a part of HGTV. Food doesn’t have to be Instagram-worthy. The more you stay to a low-key level, the less you’ll be. “Create a menu that can all be done by the time your guests arrive,” said Barbara Brass, vice president of sales for catering at Wolfgang Puck Catering. “That way, you’ll have time to be with them and not be stuck in the kitchen.”
Whatever you decide to do, “don’t try a brand-new recipe,” Chef Rachael Narins, the founder of Chicks With Knives, provides cooking classes and home catering. “Instead, share something you know how to make and love.”
It’s an excellent idea to develop a practical strategy within the space in your kitchen. “People will plan menus without thinking about how much fridge and oven space they really have,” said Elgin Woodman, executive chef at Constellation Culinary Group. “You can’t plan on too many hot items when you have just one oven, which is something everyone learns after hosting their first Thanksgiving.”
Try to ignore what you’ve seen on Instagram. “There are so many party foods on social media that seem incredible, but which are completely unrealistic to prepare,” said Jeff Ware, the chief operating officer at the Chicago-based Catering through Michaels. “Too many people are focused on making their food appear attractive, rather than tasting amazing. The way things taste is the impression your guests leave with.”
Create a list of guests who you’re inviting.
It’s not your Algonquin Round Table to come over for drinks. There’s no way that Nobel Prize winners will stop in your way. Your family and friends are humble as they are; therefore, you must think about your menu in light of their preferences and preferences. “You should aim to delight your guests, not impress them,” said Bill Hansen, the owner of Bill Hansen Catering. Bill Hansen Catering.
The process will run more smoothly if you follow this advice given by Samantha Henry, director of events for RPM Restaurant Group. “I always plan each event as if I were a guest attending the party,” she explained. “I think about the very first thing I would do, like where to park, where to put my coat, and where I’ll get my first drink.”
“Always treat adults like children and kids like adults,” said Chef Rossi, the head chef and owner of New York caterer The Raging Skillet. “Grown-ups will be delighted by fun food like peanut butter and bacon sandwiches, and kids adore adult-ish virgin cocktails like cranberry tennis,” she stated. “Great food for a party is typically something that people are already fond of, which is why you should consider cutting a pizza then cutting into tiny bites. Make a huge pot of cheese and mac, and put it in tiny tart shells to make small bites. Keep it friendly, not intimidating, and insecure. My mantra is “Rules are fun breaking.”
“Above all, have a good time while you’re making the food,” said chef Sandy Davis of New York’s Roxo Events. “Cooking for others is a tremendous gift and loads of pure fun.”
Consider special diets.
“Some mistakes I’ve noticed from nonprofessionals are not having vegetarian options and not knowing all the ingredients in the dishes, which is especially important for those with food allergies,” said Antonio Kanickaraj, the director of operations for Tulsi Indian Eatery, a vegetarian restaurant located in Los Angeles.
What does this mean for your gathering? “Often you can make one dish that serves multiple purposes, like being gluten-free and vegan,” explained Heidi Andermack, founder of Chowgirls Catering. Minneapolis’ Chowgirls Catering. “Another way to accommodate many preferences is to make meat and vegetarian versions, such as a curry with garbanzo beans and the same sauce with chicken.”
Make dishes that can be prepared before your guests’ arrival. Nobody wants to play with the oven after the party begins.
Create an outline. Then, make another.
“The art of catering events is the lead-up and preparation that happens well in advance,” said Kathleen Schaffer, the owner and creative director of the Los Schaffer Caterers in Los Angeles.
According to many chefs, the most important thing to do at work is to acquire a permanent affection for lists. “Without lists, I’d be lost,” said Edy Massih, the owner and chef of Edy’s Grocer, a Lebanese market and caterer in North Brooklyn. “You should absolutely have a shopping list, a prep list, and a packing list.”
Rossi added a fantastic suggestion for list makers who oppose it: “Use a light-color highlighter, so later on you can actually see what you crossed off.”
Making lists can help you avoid making a rookie error. The chefs in this article have mentioned purchasing too much food. “Don’t ‘wing it’ when you shop for groceries and supplies,” Chef Jonathan Scinto. “That’s how you end up buying more than necessary.”
Although you want to buy only a few food items, there’s one thing to ensure you have plenty. “Don’t forget the ice!” Woodman stated.
Do the prep work in advance.
“Professional kitchens begin to prepare items three to four days in advance of an event,” Ware stated. “We gradually make progress each day, so the workload on the day of the event is not overwhelming.”
Rossi said: “If you’re trying to do everything the day of the party, can I just ask, ‘Are you nuts?’ Do all you can ahead of time.
If you’ve put in that time and preparation, you’ll be prepared when the time for go-time is near. As per the experts, the time will differ from when the doorbell rings, with guests arriving first. “Have everything set and ready one hour before guests arrive,” Schaffer suggested.
Get the tools that professionals make use of.
The right tools at the table can be beneficial, particularly when transferring food from one venue for your event. “I use Cambro Go Boxes, which are perfect for home chefs as well as professional ones,” Scinto explained.
” Catering wrap is great for keeping food together and away from any contaminants, especially if you need to transfer it,” said chef Becky Geisel, the founder, owner, and chef-in-chief at Bex Kitchen & Catering in New Jersey. Bex Kitchen & Catering.
In addition, since chefs don’t give anything up, Take this advice by Bethany DiBaggio, chef-in-chief and co-founder of Austin’s La Pera Catering: “I cater-wrap even the most supposedly ‘spill-proof’ lids by wrapping the entire container to keep liquids and lids in place.”
“Don’t hesitate to incorporate pre-made purchased items to finish a dish,” suggested Shaun Roberts, vice president of sales for Great Performances catering in New York. Great Performances catering. “You can cut back on your time in the kitchen, not to mention reducing the number of ingredients and saving on storage space.”
Massih said he agreed and added that Instacart could be a lifesaver. “Not everyone has time to do all the food shopping, so have someone else do it for a small delivery fee,” the expert stated. “It is so worth it, giving you time to get flowers, set up the house, and build a music playlist.”
When it comes to the mix, Robin Selden, who is the executive chef and managing partner of Marcia Selden Catering and Naked Fig Catering, offered this suggestion: “The music should start with a background level so that when guests arrive, they’ll have time to socialize and enjoy their own. It can then build energy as the event moves on.”
You’ll be able to spend more time on exciting things like music when you follow the advice of Davis. “Don’t let everything you’re doing in the kitchen stack up,” Davis said. “Clean as you go!”
However, there’s one chore you can defer. “Don’t mop your floors before a party,” Andermack stated. “No one is looking at the floor, and guests are just going to mess it up, anyway.”