Over the quieter months at Otahuna Lodge we invited the public to participate in a series of cooking demonstrations. One of the lessons I gave was how to host a stress-free dinner party, and with the festive season fast approaching I thought it was the perfect time to offer a few pointers about entertaining.
Firstly, plan your menu with plenty of time and choose dishes you can make with confidence. If you can prepare any of them in advance so as to be pre-portioned, reheated or finished with minimum fuss, you will be amazed at how much time you can spend with your guests. Decide on whether to opt for individual dishes or a banquet-style menu, where everyone helps themselves.
Try to serve food as soon as all guests have arrived. This can be finger food or platters of nibbles. Sit down for dinner within the first hour and if you are serving a plated menu, start with a soup or cold entrée that can be served quickly, a main course, a simple cheese course and your favourite dessert. Have fun and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Jimmy McIntyre is a passionate foodie and the executive chef at Otahuna Lodge, Christchurch.