Get Top Entertaining Tips From The House & Home Archives
What’s your entertaining style? Is it stylish and soulful like Antoni Porowski, or laid-back and packed with flavor like Maya Gohill and Cody Willis? 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.
Antoni Porowski On Hosting A Laid-Back Dinner Party
Queer Eye‘s culinary expert and Montreal native Antoni Porowski has captured the hearts of many on the hit Netflix reality series — and it’s no surprise why. His charm, wit and incredible cooking skills make us wish we were invited to one of his covetable dinner parties. Antoni’s best advice for hosting a stress-free soirée? “Plan ahead, ask for help and stay cool. No one likes a stress-out host,” he says.
Tip: Curate A Simple Yet Creative Cheese Board
The recipe for a show-stopping charcuterie board is easier than you think. From sharp cheddar to sweet and nutty Gruyère and stinky cheeses, like Robiola Piemonte and Époisses, this hors d’oeuvre encourages guests to play with their food. “I love choosing fresh and dried fruits and spreads to accompany each cheese,” says Antoni.
Tip: Prepare Dishes Family-Style
Antoni describes his entertaining style as “unpretentious and simple,” so he can focus on cooking his favorite soul food and enjoying the company of loved ones. “Fresh flowers and good candles are a must, as is good music,” he says, “I keep the menu family-style — two or three courses at most.”
Get Antoni’s recipe for Frenchified Latkes With Chive Sour Cream.
Maya Gohill and Cody Willis On Throwing A Bengalese Soirée
When Calgary restauranteurs Maya Gohill and Cody Willis aren’t overseeing their restaurant, Calcutta Cricket Club, they’re most likely whipping up delicious Indian meals at home for friends and family. “Quite simply, it’s the lighting, it’s the music, it’s the food and it’s the people,” says Maya of the couple’s lively dinner parties. Cody adds, “You have to think about the whole picture. It’s about setting up the vibe you’re after.”
Tip: Serve A Big Batch Cocktail
“We like to offer a cocktail to guests when they arrive,” says Cody. Keep the vibe casual by serving a zingy sipper in a pitcher, which encourages loved ones to top up as they wish. No need for shaking and stirring individual drinks all night long.
Get Maya and Cody’s recipe for Big Batch Rangpur Rickey Cocktail.
Tip: Try Handheld Bites
Choose a roster of bite-sized fare that you know are crowd pleasers — dinner parties are not the best time to experiment with new, complicated recipes. “The key is to keep it easy,” says Cody. “I’d rather cook many tried and true recipes than one elaborate dish.”
Get Maya and Cody’s recipe for Grilled Lamb Kebabs With Mint Raita.
Doug Penfold On Making A Memorable Moroccan Feast
Toronto-based chef Doug Penfold fell in love with North African cuisine not only for its complex flavors but its ability to bring people together. “In Morocco, sharing a meal really means something,” he says. “It strengthens relationships, creates dialogue and fixes a lot of our modern-day stress.”
Tip: Stock Up On Spices
“It’s good to have turmeric, saffron, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and white pepper around,” says Doug. For elevated flavor, toast and grind the spices yourself, which makes a dramatic difference to the dishes.
Tip: Comfort Food Is Key
When the temperature dips, hearty stews and soups become a dinner party staple, especially when it’s packed with rich Moroccan spices. “Food is a fantastic way to celebrate these cultures, and the heart and passion of these people.”
Get Doug’s recipe for Tagine Of La Kama Chicken With Apricots & Spinach.
Devin Connell On Effortless Entertaining
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.”
Tip: Create A DIY Cocktail Station
“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.
Tip: Don’t Take Dinner Parties Too Seriously
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.
Cory Vitiello On Having Fun When Entertaining
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.”
Tip: Put Your Guests To Work
“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.
Tip: Focus On Simplicity
“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.
Fred Morin On Casual Entertaining
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?”
Tip: Put Comfort First
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?”
Tip: Cook Steak In A Slow Cooker
“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.
Melanie Dunkelman On Hosting A Cocktail Party
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.
Tip: Keep Your Kitchen Organized
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.
Tip: Offer Guests Variety
“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.
Philip Haddad On Making Entertaining A Breeze
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.
Tip: It’s All About The Company
“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.
Tip: Keep Frozen Dessert On Hand
“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.
Pheona Wright On A Potluck Dinner Done Right
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.”
Tip: Keep The Table Setting Simple
“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.
Tip: Prep Your Dishes Ahead Of Time
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.
Laura Calder On A Fuss-Free Thanksgiving
“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.
Tip: Keep Your Essentials Within Reach
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.
Tip: Don’t Skip The Brine
“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.