Ten expert-approved survival tips if you are cooking for a crowd for the first time

The iefood team shares their top tips and tricks for less stress in the kitchen
Ten expert-approved survival tips if you are cooking for a crowd for the first time

Preparation is key when it comes to entertaining a crowd. 

With Easter upon us lots of us will find ourselves hosting family for the first time. The iefood team is no stranger to cooking for large numbers, and this is how we make it easy on ourselves while impressing our guests.

1. Keep it simple

This is the cornerstone of entertaining, says Joe McNamee. "Offer a family-style help-yourself feast, most of which can be prepared well in advance, featuring a one pot wonder, maybe lamb stew or a meat/fish/chicken/vegetarian bean stew, rice, salads, good breads, cheese, and a massive chocolate cake for those not only ready in a diabetic coma after all the Easter eggs and sundry chocolates."

2. Pop that fizz

Drinks writer Leslie Williams employs one key rule for all dinner parties. "Have lots of sparkling wine in the fridge, (Champagne, Cava or Prosecco) - guests are so much more patient and pleasant once they have a glass of fizz in their hand." For dessert, there is a combination that should never be missed. "Have port for the chocolate, everything is better with port and chocolate."

3. Prepare as much as possible

For Darina Allen, preparation is a recipe for success. She recommends making and freezing as much as possible before your event. If you are serving a soup, she makes it a week in advance and freezes it. 

4. Make use of the day before

Michelle Darmody too is a fan of preparation, often utilising the day before to get the bulk of her meal ready. "Mousse, cheesecake, pavlova all could be done the day before.  For the main I would also do as much the day before as possible - have the vegetables peeled, chopped and stored in the fridge, the potatoes peeled and in water overnight, the sauce ready to go. On the day it is about negotiating oven times rather than peeling and chopping."

5. Remember the little ones

Darina Allen always has a few extra Easter eggs to keep children occupied and also, "I always have a few packets of speckled eggs to scatter around the garden in case of an emergency!"

6. No-cook starters are winners

Assemble a gorgeous charcuterie board for your starter, says Michelle Darmody. "I put together a selection of meat and cheese or smoked fish and it is always a hit." 

7. Make use of your suppliers

Remember that the people who produce the food you are buying know the most about it. When it comes to something like lamb, order from your butcher and asking them to do the heavy lifting in terms of deboning, removing fat and getting the joint oven-ready. 

8. Cook what you know

It is important to feel confident in the kitchen when cooking for a crowd, and this is where old reliable recipes come into the fore. If you really want to impress, make something that you have already tried and know that you can execute easily. 

9. Prepare your tableware in advance

The day of your party is not the time to learn that you do not have enough cutlery to serve your party. At least two days in advance count out the plates, knives, forks and spoons you need and if you do not have enough ask family and friends if you can borrow. Lay out all your serving dishes and make sure that you have enough for the meal.

10. Accept help

This the rule Caitriona Redmond swears by. "Don't be afraid to ask for help or equally, to whoosh someone out of the kitchen if they are under your feet. Also, the chef should never do the washing up."

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