Party Planning Tips from 30A Gourmet

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By Chef Gary Serafin

So you are planning a dinner party and dreading it…It seems you have a choice, work hard to make everything right and not enjoy the party, or enjoy the party and take the chance that things will not go the way you want.  Usually it’s a matter of timing, where everything has to come together at one time. Here’s a few simple guidelines which will help you organize the party with ease and also enjoy yourself. Let’s use a dinner party for 6-10 friends. Let’s start with some hors d’oeuvres to begin the evening while people arrive and chat.  Once dinner begins start with a first course of salad or seafood or both. Follow that with the main course followed by dessert. As this is a gathering of friends, ask everyone to bring a bottle of wine. Assign a type of wine for each person that will pair with a course, such as champagne, white wine, and red. Have your own wine selections for backup. Pre-set your dinner table, set out all of your glassware either on the table or at the “bar” area, have all of your dinner service plates out and ready.

For the menu start with three different hors d’oeuvres. Make sure they have different ingredients from the other courses you are serving. They should not require a fork to enjoy them. You can offer both hot and cold items.  Prepare them in advance! The first course could be a salad and seafood combination recipe that is easy to assemble. The main course can be either a seafood or meat dish which is fully prepped so you only have to heat it up and plate it.  Find recipes that can be partially cooked then chilled or held room temperature then finished off. Many vegetables can be prepped or partially cooked then heated up in the microwave.

Since these are your friends there will always be someone willing to help plate up and serve. Your plates are ready to go and you should have a clear area to plate up each course. Take time in advance to jot down a general timeline on how you want things to flow. Remember to ENJOY the evening! In future articles we will provide guidelines for different types of events.

Chef Gary Serafin
30A Gourmet