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How to host the perfect dinner party

Text: Jane Keltner de Valle; Photography: Getty Images

How to host the perfect dinner party

He designs collections for his own two labels, Zac Posen and ZAC by Zac Posen and serves as a Project Runway judge. As if Zac Posen doesn’t already have enough on his plate – pun intended – he released his first cookbook Cooking with Zac in October 2017 (follow him on Instagram for mouth-watering pics).

So, in the spirit of the festive season, pop open that bottle of pinot and follow Zac’s best warm-weather entertaining tips – from wining and dining to setting an Insta-perfect table.

The guest list

If you’re cooking dinner yourself, the guest list should be limited to around eight people. That’s a great amount and it’s intimate. Larger than that, it becomes a personal catering endeavour. I like to carefully mix up a guest list and include people that I’ve wanted to meet each other, but I also try to make sure it’s going to be a group where everybody will be comfortable with each other, too. Discretion and political comfort zone are all things that are important! For larger entertaining, you can be more adventurous because it’s a group. But you never want to have somebody feel uncomfortable at a dinner in your home.

The seating arrangements

I love place cards. They set it up so you don’t have that weird sitting-down confusion. Sometimes you have clingy couples, but in general it’s nice to mix up couples, ages and backgrounds. Try to put an eclectic group of people together.

The perfect table setting

Whatever flowers are in season, go to town! You want flowers that aren’t going to wilt; put a small ice cube in the water to help with that. I’m a fan of multiple small, low arrangements so people can see and talk over them. And I love a tablecloth in a print. Summer is a great time to play with prints. And entertaining is the most fun when it’s less formal.

Cooking for a large group

Always make more food in case surprise guests arrive at the last minute. The most important thing is that you don’t want to be a slave in your kitchen, so prepare as much as you can. Hors d’oeuvres, soup and salad can always be prepared in advance, which gives you time to enjoy some time chatting with your guests. And it’s very important to have your wine pre-chilled.

The starters

Try mozzarella-stuffed zucchini flowers with a leaf of basil inside. Roll in flour and fry in a mix of vegetable, sesame and olive oil. A great trick for frying is to put a popcorn kernel in the oil, and when it pops, you’re ready to fry. These can be made an hour before you want to serve them.

I tend to make a lot of vegetable soups in the summer – chilled or warm. For people who want to have pasta but don’t want any type of wheat or grain, swap regular pasta for zucchini pasta, and dress with pesto.

The mains

For summertime, it always comes down to seafood or the braai. With seafood, serve poached salmon because that can be done ahead of time and in a matter of minutes. Use a low pan, a little bit of water, some sliced lemon and put it on a slow simmer for around 10 minutes. Then let it come back down to room temperature. Serve with a cucumber or beetroot salad. It’s terrific for outdoor dining. For a braai, you have to time it. That’s a two-person entertaining job because one person has to host and monitor how the party’s going, and one person has to be cooking. So it depends how leisurely or speedy an affair you want to host.

The dessert

Grilled peaches with a balsamic reduction are really good. When it becomes stone fruit season, it’s such a great way to do a tarte tatin (an upside-down pastry in which the fruit are caramelised in butter and sugar before the tart is baked). Put the fruit into the pastry dough beautifully sliced in half upside down, then lay the dough over it and bake. That can be done ahead of time and then warmed up when guests are there.

Taken from GLAMOUR UK. Click here to read the original.

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