Summertime provides the perfect opportunity for a party, indoors or out. We asked Sherrill Gonterman, owner of LaCHEF Catering, for some tips to make the cuisine at your next bash a hit with your guests.
- It’s really popular to set up long tables outside in your backyard or under a tent for 20-plus guests to gather around for summer parties or weddings. Pass around big bowls or platters of food, making the menu simple and easy to execute.
- Base the menu on summertime produce from local farmers markets.
- Decorate the tables with wildflowers, candles or other rustic adornments.
BARBECUE WITH A CONTEMPORARY APPROACH
- Grilled fruit bars add an upscale element to a traditional barbecue. Peaches and pineapples grill well and can be paired with meats such as pork tenderloin.
- Offer guests their choice of gourmet sauces instead of the regular barbecue sauce. We’re making sauces like raspberry-chipotle, peach-mint and pineapple-rum.
- Use tiny edibles to jazz up the meal. You can find microgreens, edible petals, shoots or mini - vegetables at Trader Joe’s or farmers markets.
SMALL PLATES AND SHOOTERS
- Small plates create a twist on the normal dinner-party fare. We have done dishes like barbecue pork in a small twice-baked potato or grilled lime chicken with jicama slaw and macadamia rice. But if you’re preparing dinner on your own, keep in mind having to plate the dishes ahead of time and consider doing small plates that can be served cold.
- Shooters still are very popular and you can make one for an appetizer before dinner. We’ve made Mexican dip with beans, salsa and cumin sour cream in a shooter glass, topped with grilled shrimp.
- If you don’t hire a caterer for your party, keep it simple. Don’t do too many hot dishes and make sure you have some help.
- Use upscale paper products and disposables so you’re not dealing with dishes. Recycled bamboo products are eco-friendly and popular right now.
- Do the grilling before the party so you’re not manning the grill instead of mingling with your guests. You can under-grill items and finish them in the oven.
- Make sure you have plenty of ice. It’s the first thing to go, and you don’t want to have to run out on your own party.