By Tom Gore – Executive chef @ The Brewery
Here are my top tips for catering parties over the festive period. It doesn’t have to be stressful and following these points should make it easy and fun, which is all you want at xmas time!
1.Keep it simple: Simple, but effective. If you’re catering a large party for the first time you need to consider everyone’s tastes and specific requirements, and may want to use a previously tried and tested menu that can be easily adapted if needed
2.Master your brief: When planning a dinner party, it’s best to put the menu together as a whole, vary the offering and ingredients throughout, from canapés to petit fours, but remember to keep it balanced. Experimenting is all part of the fun, but it is always a good idea to practice the dishes before you need to impress a table full of family and friends.
3.Preparation is key: Prepare as much of your menu as you can in advance, essentially, so you don’t miss out on the party! With so much to do over Christmas, the key is to create a menu that you can pre-cook some of the elements before your guests arrive, or even the night before. Then when your diners arrive you can look calm, collected, and even have clean surfaces too. Don’t forget, any ingredients that do need to be cooked at the last minute can be weighed out and prepared in advance, so you only need to throw it all together.
4.Alcohol pairing: Every detail counts, pair wines or beers to your dishes – white wine with fish, red wine with meat is universally recognised. Consider the sweetness of grape, woody flavours or fruity notes and sharpness can really complement your dish and take it to the next level. There’s also dessert wines and whiskies – have you ever tried a shot of Guinness with a chocolate fondant? Or if you’re keeping it Christmassy try an aged Tawny Port with your Christmas pudding
5. Leave a little extra: Cooking for large numbers can be tricky – but it’s always better to cook too much, than not enough. And my favourite part – there will be leftovers to last you until the New Year.
The Brewery can be found at 52 Chiswell St, London EC1Y 4SD or visit www.thebrewery.co.uk