A wonderful meal in a restaurant is a coordinated effort that involves cooks and prep cooks, expos, dishwashers, food runners, servers, bussers, bartenders, and hosts.
Entertaining at home is an art, since all the roles need to be assumed by one or two people. Here are some ways to pull off a spectacular meal at home, borrowing from lessons learned in restaurants.
1. You’re the cook, but you’re the host, too.
Make time between cooking and serving food. If your recipe has a finishing step, that’s your cue to step away from the stove and spruce up. Taking this moment will allow you enjoy your hard work.
2. Build ambiance with the same care that a professional waiter would.
This can be as simple or elaborate as you want. At the very least, wipe off the table that you will be eating on. Polish your cutlery with a damp dish rag to get rid of water stains. If the overhead light is too harsh, use unscented candles instead. Turn on the radio. Don’t leave the TV on.
3. Plate your food like a chef.
Take the time to warm up your dishes in a low oven – if serving warm bone broth, for example, place ovenproof bowls in a 250 degree oven for 10 minutes. Place your plates in the refrigerator if your recipe will be served cold. Look online for plating ideas. Use tongs! Add a garnish! Get creative.
4. Become the most valuable player- the dishwasher.
Try to eliminate as many dishes as possible before you even sit down for the meal. When you have finished eating and have cleared your plates, turn the radio up, pour yourself a little more of whatever you were drinking, and make it fun.
5. Be the guest.
Work on being present. Enjoy the company and the food. Appreciate all the hard work that went into your meal and give thanks.