Get Top Entertaining Tips From The House & Home Archives
What’s your entertaining style? Is it simple and fuss-free like Laura Calder, or lively and boisterous like Cory Vitiello? Step inside the dinner parties of some of the food industry’s top talent and get their entertaining secrets so you can be the host with the most this holiday season.
Cookbook author, Food Network personality, restaurant owner and founder of the food and lifestyle website Crumb, Devin Connell is all about making entertaining easy.
“I only began to enjoy [entertaining] when I realized everything didn’t have to be homemade,” says the food entrepreneur. “It’s about using basic things and learning how to elevate them.”
“Treat your guests like the adults they are. A dirty martini bar gives them a fun task but also allows you to ‘outsource’ one small part of the night,” she says.
Get Devin’s Dirty Martini recipe.
Instead of traditional place settings, Devin uses Pez dispensers with different characters, so guests can have a fun time figuring out where they’re sitting.
In between filming episodes of Food Network’s Chef in Your Ear and overseeing his popular eatery Flock, Cory Vitiello has a few tricks up his sleeve when it comes cooking and entertaining — and enjoying it in the process. For starters, he says, “Entertaining should be as social for the person cooking as it is for the guests.”
“Everybody pitches in. Every dish is fun, so you can have other people in the kitchen, and it’s not head-down working for 12 hours,” he says.
“We look at home cooking as a way to get back to making simple food we adore, and most of the time that’s working with a few beautiful ingredients and creating around that.” What’s on his menu? “Roast chicken is — as you can probably guess — my favorite meal,” he says. “You’ve got the pan drippings from the chicken that’s been spiced with lemon and rosemary… that really is the best smell in the world,”
Get Cory’s recipe for Roast Chicken With Chickpeas, Bitter Greens & Mini Creamer Potatoes.
As the co-chef and co-owner of Montreal’s Joe Beef, Fred Morin is use to pleasing a big crowd. And when it comes to hosting his own dinner parties, the more the merrier.
“When we entertain at home, I love it to be spontaneous,” says Fred. “We get a bunch of people round after playing some hockey or soccer, and we just hang out and it turns into a nice, simple dinner, you know?”
Fred’s renovated ground floor is the perfect space to host a dinner party, especially around this spacious banquette. The banquette was chosen for “pure practicality and coziness,” says Fred’s wife Allison. “Why would you ever sit in a chair if you had a banquette?”
“The secret to perfect steak is a slow cooker. Throw in the meat with butter and Worcestershire sauce, and slow-cook it until the steak is just right. After that, you just barbecue it on a very hot grill for a few minutes to get that nice crust. It’s life-changing,” he says.
Get Fred’s recipe for Reverse-Seared Sirloin.
Chef Melanie Dunkelman started using seasonal, local ingredients in her cooking long before it was considered “cool.” Having sourced food in Alaska, Spain, Prince Edward Island and Quebec, her eclectic palette translates to her menu when she’s hosting friends and family.
Melanie keeps her fridge and pantry stocked with key ingredients. “My home kitchen is small, but it fits everything I need. When I entertain, I find myself standing at the island with everyone gathered around me. It takes me no time to feed 12 people,” says Melanie.
“My friend once counted the dishes I made for a party: it was 21 things! I usually do something steamed, something fried, something roasted, something raw. It’s food that makes people feel good, so not too salty or fatty,” she says.
Get Melanie’s recipe for Potato Latkes With Smoked-Trout Mousse.
Dental specialist by day and gourmet baker by night, Philip Haddad is no stranger to multitasking, especially in the kitchen. His bakery-meets-restaurant, Emmer & Ash, is set to open in 2019, but in the meantime, he shares his favorite crowd-pleasing recipes with his close friends and family.
“My friends and I all like to cook simple foods. I believe you shouldn’t be afraid to invite someone over for something as simple as piece of toast and a glass of wine. People want to catch up and be around each other; they don’t necessarily want an eight-course meal,” says Philip.
“I keep this pastry dough and frangipane in my freezer at all times. I love the acidity the rhubarb brings to the frangipane, which turns into a semi-cakey layer on top of the tart,” he says.
Get Philip’s recipe for Frangipane And Rhubarb Tart.
When it comes to feeding a big crowd, a potluck-style feast is the way to go. “I recently had a dinner party for 12 adults and 10 kids, which would have been a lot of food to cook by myself,” says the former model and food enthusiast. “You have to be specific, and kind of control it. I’ll do the main and a salad and let guests bring dessert, the kids’ meal and drinks.”
“My dining room opens to the kitchen, which is great for entertaining. My table is a Saarinen-style one that can fit 10 people, but I don’t set a fancy table — just a water glass and wine tumbler. And the cheese course makes a great centerpiece,” says Pheona.
The beauty of this cheesy dish is you can fill, form and sauce the roll-ups up to one day in advance of the party, so all you need to do is pop them in the oven and dig in.
Get Pheona’s recipe for Lasagna Rolls.
“If you’re hosting, [a] traditional menu relieves some of the pressure because everyone knows what to expect. We get to march along in step with the tried and true, only throwing in a dash of originality if we want to,” says the Food Network star.
When you’re whipping up an elaborate feast, you want to have all of your spices and sauces within reach. Display them on floating shelves for a colorful and eclectic look with tons of practicality.
“We always make author Michael Ruhlman’s rosemary brine for fried chicken, so for Thanksgiving I immediately thought: Why not add a few more herbs and adapt it for turkey? This brine adds wonderful flavor and makes the bird ultramoist,” she says.
Get Laura’s recipe for Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme-Brined Roast Turkey.