Entertaining 101 with Cynthia Beretta

Funny how it can take me days to actually sit down to write a piece about how I entertain!  I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by family, friends and good food from a young age.  My parents loved to throw parties and my mom is a fantastic cook, so entertaining to me seems second nature.  However, for many people the thought of having to cook and entertain a large or even small group can be very scary and intimidating.

I have always felt that it’s less about how you make your food, but more about how it makes your guests feel when they eat it.  Their experience is what it’s all about.  As a host, you want to give them a small slice of heaven for a few short hours.

Being prepared ahead of time is key.  If I am stressed about the meal I am preparing, inevitably, my guests are going to feel my stress.  So I try to have as much prepared ahead of time so that I can focus all my attention on making everyone feel relaxed and welcome.  Choosing foods that can be made earlier in the day or even the day before a party are always a good idea.  That way when everyone is arriving you are free to socialize and have fun too.

I also really try to make our friends or family feel extra special by making their favourite dishes or serving items that they might not take the time to make themselves.  Slow braising beef ribs, osso buco, risotto, all are some of my favourites for dinner parties. As long as you are using simple, quality ingredients to cook with, you cannot go wrong.  All the details from setting the table to the appetizers, the drinks and finally to the main course should all be kept simple and stress-free. I have a huge sign on top of my kitchen cupboard that reads “Keep it Simple”, truly what else is there to say.