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Fresh Berry
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Chef Pete

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Iron Clad Holiday Entertaining Tips

November 2, 2011
(8) Comments on this post

On the morning of Thursday, October 5th, I had the opportunity present the Keynote Address at the Michigan Design Center’s premier launch of its @home Magazine in Troy, Michigan.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Michigan Design Center, located at 1700 Stutz Drive nestled amidst the sprawling Troy Motor Mall campus, is a state of the art collection of home décor from furnishings to fabrics, fixtures and art from all over the world and in most any style you could imagine.

A maze of hallways leads you through a menagerie of colors, style and ideas for your current home or perhaps for one you intend to build, all with vignettes, displays and objects to see, touch and experience in person.

My presentation that morning was one I’m often giving impromptu in my own home, when I throw parties of my own, and that is, “how and the heck do you pull this off Pete??”, (maybe it’s even more impressive to some because I’m single and there’s fewer hands to help).

But is it really THAT hard??  Actually it’s not that difficult with a little advanced planning AND with a strategy that makes it possible to start well in advance and have it all come together seamlessly at the end… without breaking a sweat.

Copies of the Michigan Design Center’s @home Magazine are at local news stands and of course, at Nino’s, but I’ll give you a sneak preview of a few of my time and money saving tips.

Tip # 1  Bland is boring… No one is likely to remember bland food. Don’t be afraid to use bold flavors and spices. Let your food make a statement!

Tip # 2  Pre-prepare as many dishes as you can in advance, and have things on pans, ready to pop into the oven when guests arrive so they can be cooking while you entertain. Don’t be afraid to use the microwave oven to re-heat sauces or side dishes you’ve freshly prepared earlier in the day.

Tip # 3  Go vertical.. Flat table displays are a bore. Create visual interest in your buffet composition by elevating platters and chafing dishes to varying heights. Also, use what you have to create interesting table decorations. Things like tree branches, colorful leaves and backyard flowers can really add interest to your display of foods.

Of course there are MANY more tips (17 in all) that are in the magazine article but safe to say, they’re all well worth considering the next time you entertain.

Have any tips YOU’VE found made your entertaining more enjoyable, more memorable, more fun? I’d love to hear from you.

8 Comments

Harvey Tom said :
314 weeks ago

I was at your presentation on October 5. I definatly learned a lot from your presentation. However, there was one subject that you had mentioned in your presentation that I am having a hard time to find. You suggested to go to a commercial resale place to buy some of my kitchen supplies without having to pay full price. I live in novi, so any suggestion would be helpful. Reply...

Chef Pete said :
310 weeks ago

Tom...my apologies for my tardy reply... I'm not aware of any Restaurant Supply firms in that area but one you may want to check out is GoldStar Food Service/Restaurant Supply on Coolidge about 1/4 Mile north of 8 mile road. See Jimin or Wally and they'll take good care of you. (248) 548-9840. You can also get some good deals on line at BigTray.com Good luck! Pete

Chandra said :
306 weeks ago

Good Morning Chef Pete, I enjoy your input. The question I pose is, after careful planning of a sandwich or any other dish that would require the use of 'mayonaise'... isn't it healthier/wiser to use/make homemade mayonaise? And do you have a recipe? Thank you and enjoy the day. Kind regards, Chandra Reply...

Chef Pete said :
303 weeks ago

Chandra, Interesting question. My personal answer is yes...and no. On the plus side is that if you make your own mayonnaise, you can control what's in it. Using a oil that suits your taste or one with better "health" properties. You can also control the content of acidity, salt etc...based on that alone, yes. If you have the time, and could promise yourself to use all that you make in less than a week, by all means, go for it!! On the negative side (in my mind) are more trade-offs and possible issues than there are benefits on the plus side. They are: 1. Mayonnaise requires RAW egg yolks so unless you are buying pasteurized ones, you may be providing bacteria THE perfect breeding ground. And the eggs should be very fresh....not ones that may have been in the fridge for weeks. 2. You MUST ensure a very sterile environment. That is, all utensils, the food processor AND the container you store it in all must be very well sanitized. Everytime. 3. And as I mentioned above, are you prepared to use what may be a minimum of 1+ cup within a week? If you're only going to use 2 tablespoons to spread on a sandwich twice a week it hardly makes sense to make a cup of it? 4. If you like the taste of let's say Hellman's, don't think that what you'll make will taste that way, likely it won't. Be prepared to embark on a new taste profile. 5. For health purposes, in my mind, the greater gain is in quality bread or the other 95% of this dish. A quality mayonnise is still 85%+ fat no matter how you slice it. Fat is 9 calories per gram. Period. But, if you like cooking, would enjoy the oppotunity to make it at home, below is THE standard recipe. It can be tweaked to suit your tastes. Ingredients 1 large egg yolk, room temperature 1/8 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste 1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus more to taste 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard 3/4 cup vegetable oil Directions 1.Place the egg yolk and salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the lemon juice and mustard; blend well. With the motor running, add the oil, drop by drop. This will take a few minutes. Don't rush it or the mayonnaise may "break," meaning the oil will separate from the egg. (Note: If your food processor has a small hole in the feed-tube pusher, pour the oil in there and let it drip through.) 2.Once you've added the oil, sample the mayo and add more salt or lemon juice to taste. Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Stir before spreading.

Nancy McHugh said :
306 weeks ago

Loved this article by Chef Pete! I am a busy over worked women that still loves to entertain...but have little energy after all the work of a holiday season. So-o-o this last Thanks Giving I invited a few single friends and a couple or two that had no children (and no place to go) to dine at my home. I had the turkey in the oven when they arrived about two hours earlier than dinner would was to be served. As we sipped on cocktails I gave out aprons and had stations set up along my large country kitchen table and asked for help in preparing the rest of the meal. As we visited; toasted the season we all got in the 'mix' of preparing the rest of the meal. One person peeled spuds, another cut up relishes and another set the main table with china, crystal, candles etc. A fantastic participatory dinner was had by all! Upon leaving to make their drive home everyone said they had a fantastic 'back home' kind of holiday stating how fun it was to be part of the festivities! It also turned out that I wasn't dead tired feeling sorry for myself and enjoyed all my guests! Reply...

Chef Pete said :
303 weeks ago

Thanks Nancy. Having friends over, especially if they enjoyed being in the kitchen and helping out, is a WONDERFUL way to enjoy an evening of fun and holiday spirit! It's where most people feel comfortable anyway (the kitchen that is), so why not make an evening of it! I'm sure each person chose something they enjoyed doing while you talked and had fun. Sharing is what food is all about. Congratulations Nancy!! Another great holiday entertaining tip!! One I'll be sure to pass on! Pete

don said :
297 weeks ago

TShur would like to get recipe for your chicken pot pie soupe and potato roasted corn chower? Both were out of this World. Reply...

Chef Pete said :
293 weeks ago

Hey Don! Would love to give you those recipe but unfortunately those two have yet to be released for me to share with our customers. The inside "scoop" on the Chicken Pot Pie recipe is that it's simply a GREAT chicken stock made from our Rotisserie Chickens (saving the meat for the garnish of course) and then thickening that stock with a roux made of butter and flour. We also add a splash of cream and the rest, quite simply is the sauteed vegetables.... Likewise, the Corn Chowder is chicken stock based with the same roux and cream except we puree half of the corn to really give you more corn taste. We also add bacon. As time goes by, we'll be able to share more recipes for our soups...for now...well, they're under lock and key!! lol Thanks Don.... Pete

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