If you’ve become known as “the host who burns the roast” you need not toss up your oven mitts and quit. It could be that you’re getting too complicated with your menu.
Greg Fraser, [co-owner of Dade Loft] recommends focusing around foods you are comfortable preparing. “You don’t have to have a six-course meal. Start with something that you find easy,” he says, noting that almost anyone can pull off cocktails and appetizers. “I wouldn’t start with a big, four-course dinner for 15.”
As a frequent host of both personal and corporate events, Clare McWilliams also advises simplifying the amount of work you are doing. One way to do this, she says, is to mix dishes you cook from scratch with some you buy prepared. “If your budget allows you to order food and you’re more comfortable this way, do it,” McWilliams says. This frees you up to socialize more and gives you a chance to make the food look good. “It’s a nice touch to transfer [store-bought] items into your own stoneware and dishes. Not only does it present better, but some guests may assume you cooked it. Don’t ask, don’t tell!”
If you really dread the kitchen, call in the pros. There is an entire industry dedicated to making party food so you don’t have to. “Our role is to make the process easy for the client so they can sit back and enjoy their party,” says Judy Rafuse at Grumans Catering and Delicatessen. Hiring a caterer doesn’t have to be super fancy or super pricey, either. Rafuse notes that Grumans offers hot pans of food that can be put in the oven and then served, allowing you to avoid the cost of renting chafing dishes or hiring servers.
Where to Buy a Platter
Order online or in-store from a range of options including custom meat and cheese boards that they can create on your own tray if you like.
9919 Fairmont Dr. S.E., 403-238-4869, italiancentre.ca
The catering arm of this Italian specialty store prepares and delivers your party foods – whether you’re looking for a cheese platter or a full dinner menu with as little as 48 hours’ notice.
2224 4 St. S.W., 403-263-5535; 5000, 873 85 St. S.W., 403-263-6996, mercatogourmet.com
There are a lot of catering options to choose from in the city, but very few have bricks-and-mortar shops where you can choose frozen and fresh items, as well as order catering. You can also order online and Meez will deliver.
Willow Park Village, 403-264-6336, meezcuisine.com
All of the locations of this store make beautiful custom cheese boards in a range of prices.
Four locations in Calgary, springbankcheese.ca
Choose from beautiful and tasty cheese, charcuterie or mixed boards from $25 to $150. This little shop can provide trays within 24 hours of ordering.
1249 Kensington Rd. N.W., 587-353-3599, peasantcheese.com
Sunterra runs a full-service catering business with an extensive menu that goes far beyond platters and hors d’oeuvres to include not only choices for every meal but plate rentals and serving staff as well. They also deliver catering and grocery orders to many locations inside the city.
Multiple locations, sunterramarket.com
Call in the Food Trucks
If your party is going to draw a crowd too large for a seated dinner, [interior designer and frequent host] Paul Lavoie recommends bringing in a food truck. It solves a host of hosting problems all in one go, and since guests like to congregate in the kitchen anyway, it clears up space where you need it most.
“They set up in your driveway and you can go feed yourself and then go back in the house – it’s awesome,” Lavoie says. “The kitchen doesn’t get hot or dirty and when they drive away they take all the garbage with them.”