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Photo courtesy of Nicki Sebastian

Easy, Graceful Entertaining Hacks
from 3 of Our Favorite Chefs

In partnership with our friends at Advertisement

Cooking for a crowd while enjoying yourself (not to mention maintaining a cool and calm demeanor) might sound like an unattainable goal, but three of our favorite chefs have some pretty fantastic tips, hacks, and trade secrets that truly make holiday entertaining easier, more delicious, and fun.

  • TJ STEELE
  • TJ STEELE

    Chef/Owner of Claro in Brooklyn

    OUTSOURCE WITH PRIDE:

    “Don’t try be a hero in the kitchen making everything from scratch (especially if it’s not your strong suit). Instead, leave it to those around you who are experts—consider yourself a pro outsourcer. Look into who makes the best masa, sausage, bread, etc., in your area and you’ve already got a leg up.”

  • GO BIG, IN BATCHES:

    “Make a big batch of one cocktail ahead of time. Large presentations are always people-pleasing, and they mean you don’t have to play bartender all night. Our head bartender’s go-to for the holidays is the Logia Negra—mezcal, coffee, sweet vermouth, red wine, and a bit of honey served warm with rosemary, pine, and sliced lemon. The spicy, herbaceous, wintry flavors balance the underlying smoky bitterness of mezcal and coffee. Perfect for holiday entertaining or Twin Peaks rewatching.”

  • ENCOURAGE INTERACTIVITY:

    “Make a taco or tostada bar with tons of options for everyone, plus salsas and condiments. If you don’t have a tortilla warmer, keep them warm in a cooler lined with dish towels. Get everything prepped the day before so you have more time to spend with your guests. It’s a fun (and delicious) way to get everyone interacting.”

  • TREVOR BIRD
  • TREVOR BIRD

    Chef and Proprietor of Fable Kitchen in Vancouver

    PLAN, PREP, AND REHEAT:

    “Make a menu first, then a shopping list, then a ‘mise’ list (a fancy chef word for ‘to-do list’). Then start prepping as much as you can ahead of time—make the sauces, cut the vegetables, braise the meats—so all you’re really doing the day of is warming things up and adding finishing touches.”

  • SALMON IS AN EASY SHOWSTOPPER

    “I love serving whole sides of salmon at a cocktail reception. It’s easy, and it makes you look like a pro. Place a whole side of salmon on a baking dish (nice enough to serve from) and season with salt, olive oil, lemons, and herbs (tarragon is my favorite). Cook in a very low oven, around 200°F, for about twenty-five minutes. Serve with capers, thinly sliced red onion, grated horseradish, and as many fresh herbs as you like. Place some crackers and bread around to eat with the fish.”

  • JOSHUA DRAGE
  • JOSHUA DRAGE

    Executive Chef of the Ranch at Rock Creek in Phillipsburg, Montana

    NO CROWD? SKIP THE TURKEY

    “Roast a chicken for a small family or a couple—it pairs great with festive wines like rosé, bubbles, or Burgundy. Roast the whole bird in a cast-iron pan over a crusty baguette to create dressing. One-pan meals leave more room on the table for great wine.”

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