Some of the best things about this time of year are the big parties and soirees. But, sometimes smaller more intimate gatherings are a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the festive social scene. If you’re planning a smaller affair, use these tips from Tom Filippou, executive chef for President’s Choice, to pull off the perfect intimate gathering.
Pro tips to pull off an intimate holiday party
Sit-down vs. buffet-style dinner?
A sit-down dinner is perfect for more intimate gatherings of three to six guests. A buffet-style menu is easier for a larger group of six or more.
Plan your menu.
Pick a theme and stick to it. For example, if you are serving Osso Buco as your main course, stick to Italian as your theme. Once you’ve planned your menu, alternate courses serving a heavy then a light course, e.g. cream soup (heavy), followed by a green salad (light), then a pasta course (heavy), and so on. This gives the palate a chance to rest.
Choose a versatile wine.
Pinot Noir is typically a light to medium-bodied red wine that boasts considerable meal pairing versatility. If you’re looking for a white wine to suit most moods, look to Chenin Blanc. The shape-shifting grape is just as quaffable bone-dry as it is sparkling or sweet, thanks to its racy acidity and heavenly aromatics.
Make the table look extra special.
For your sit-down dinner party, use linen napkins, silver cutlery and chargers under plates. Place a beautiful flower arrangement in the centre of the table that is low enough for guests to see each other.
Spend more time with guests.
There are a few things you can do to give yourself more time out of the kitchen. Do as much prep as you can the night before your event – chop veggies, marinate meats, assemble your cold canapés.
Give yourself a break.
Not everything you serve has to be made from scratch. Try a simple impressive first course like a cheese tray or charcuterie, or pick up an easy-to-serve appetizer like the PC Thai Hors D’Oeuvres Collection, brimming with Thai-inspired chicken curry flavours. It’s a great appetizer selection ready to bake when entertaining.
Serve dinner like a pro.
Serve no more than one-half-cup servings per person for soup, salad or pasta courses. If portions are too large your guests will not have room for the beautiful dessert you have prepared. Serve food from the left, pick up empty plates from the right.
Plate up ‘restaurant style’ dishes by arranging food on the plate before serving. When plating up, keep the rim of the plate clear of all food and garnishes. Think of the plate as a painting Announce to your guests while serving each course what the recipe contains, name a few of the ingredients, they will appreciate the information.