December 29, 2015
Mark McEwan’s New Year’s Eve Entertaining Tips
Food editor Kristen Eppich chats with chef Mark McEwan about hosting on New Year’s Eve.
For those of us who aren’t lucky enough to be spending New Year’s Eve at Mark McEwan’s party this year, we may as well benefit from his hosting and entertaining tips. Here’s what I picked up from our conversation:
Keep it casual: New Year’s Eve should be simple from a food standpoint. The food should be fun, easy and super tasty. This year, Mark will be doing a buffet style dinner, serving comfortable but sophisticated food — like a simple pasta dish with a great meat sauce — from his kitchen island.
Stay away from fussy hors d’oeuvres: The last thing you want is a recipe that requires all of your attention when you’re trying to host. Mark suggests going for the classics like a paté on grilled crostini. He also recommends room-temperature appetizers, like his Tuna Crostini With White Beans And Olive Salsa. These can be left out ahead of time, freeing you up to make introductions and chat with your guests.
Space things out: Choose recipes that allow a lot of prep to be done ahead of time. Then when it’s time to cook, space out your food preparation on different surfaces; one in the oven, one on the stove and one on the grill (weather permitting).
Stock a classic bar: Load up a bar and let people mix their own drinks – this takes the pressure off the host. For white wine, put at least one bottle on ice in a nice bucket to prevent guests having to go to the fridge for a cold glass. Mark’s go-to white wine for entertaining is Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. In addition to a few varieties of red wines, have a wide variety of liquors, mixes and condiments.
Prep serving plates and utensils: One of the worst things to do in front of your guests is to hunt around for a salad bowl or the proper serving spoon. So well before your guests arrive, plan out which serving plates and utensils will be used for each dish or course.
Prep coffee and tea: These are a great way to end the evening, but they can be time-consuming to serve if you haven’t properly prepared. Make sure your espresso or coffee machine is ready to use with a full water tank and the beans or grounds in the filter. Have a selection of teas available so you don’t have to rummage around in the cupboard for them.