You’re already known among friends as a great cook. They can count on you to whip up a savory appetizer or life-changing main entree for any get-together. And while your favorite induction cookware sets make cooking a breeze, you’re not sure how to step it up a notch and blow the minds of your dinner guests. Never fear! Below, we share five easy tips to take your next dinner party to a new level!
Follow a Theme
One benefit to following a theme is the ease of planning your food and decor. Plus, it amps up the ambiance of any meal with guests.
If you have a tried and true cuisine you enjoy cooking, such as Italian, build the theme around it. But don’t feel like you need to renovate your home to match the theme. Sometimes, a handful of relevant touches is all it takes to bring everything together. For example, you could use unscented candles as a table centerpiece and have regional music on low in the background. Invite your guests to bring their favorite Italian wine or suggest an appetizer or two.
Prep Ingredients Before Guests Arrive
This step is critical if you haven’t made any of the planned dishes before. Start by thoroughly reading and re-reading the recipes. Make note of any parts that can be prepared ahead. For example, you can clean and chop vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes, the day before as they store well in a refrigerator.
Figure out what cooking vessels you’ll need, and mark them for the desired dishes with sticky notes. Not only does prepping the day before make the cooking go more quickly, but it’ll alleviate anxiety before your dinner guests arrive.
Cook with High-Quality Ingredients
No matter your budget, the quality of ingredients is more important than where they were purchased. This generally applies to the main ingredients, such as fruits and vegetables. Seasonality greatly affects the quality and taste. Think of tomatoes in the winter versus in the summer. So when planning a meal, if ingredients aren’t in season, consider cooking another dish to avoid sacrificing the overall quality.
Focus on the Presentation
Have you ever eaten a meal that wasn’t visually appealing but tasted wonderful? There’s no denying the great taste, but wouldn’t the experience be even grander if the visuals matched?
To boost your presentation, take some tips from graphic designers. They leave plenty of white space around their creations as this draws people’s eyes to the artwork (in this case, your food). Ensure none of the colors or styles of your tableware compete with the food. Also, create a touch of contrast by using a drizzle of olive oil or a shake of black pepper on the food’s surface (where appropriate) right before serving.
Add a Touch of Style to the Table Setting
The focal point of your dinner party is the food, but the table plays a crucial supporting role. It can work as a palette for a themed dinner or a blank canvas for a main entree and sides. Use the table to set the mood and tone with coordinated tableware and a centerpiece, such as a floral arrangement, if you have the space. Choose an understated but complementary table setting to elevate foods with bright flavors.
The often-overlooked details of cooking and hosting dinner guests make or break a memorable meal. Coordinating the menu with the table settings creates an immersive experience for everyone. And taking the time to plan and prep makes the evening much easier on the cook everyone is coming to appreciate (aka you)!