After 25 years at Daniel, Chef Daniel Boulud’s empire continues to grow, and his passion and standards for his work are as high as they’ve ever been. Here, he shares with us his best dinner party tips.
Have a theme.
“One time I threw a party in my home where I had seven of the best chefs in New York cooking cheese fondue at the same time. Each one decided how to make theirs and of course there was competition. We’re talking Jean-Georges, Charlie Palmer…all the top chefs. It was a lot of fun.”
Limit the number of guests.
“If it’s a sit-down, try to limit how many people it will be,” Boulud says. “A good number is between 10 and 16 maximum. Otherwise you can’t spend time with friends.”
Play musical chairs.
One way to keep the conversation flowing: “Every course, you grab your glass of wine and your napkin and you move over” a couple of seats, Boulud says.
Choose food that’s not complicated to consume.
“[When] entertaining at home it should not be a challenge for the guest to eat,” Boulud says. “Don’t serve lobster in the shell; at home, keep it civilized” he says, with say, a risotto that you can eat elegantly.
Make it easy on yourself.
To keep stress levels down, serve family style or put food on platters so guests can serve themselves, Boulud says. “The main course is always a roast or a braise or something that has a wonderful aroma,” he says. He also recommends serving a dessert that’s premade, like a fruit tart plated with ice cream.
Celebrate the season.
For October, as an example, Chef Boulud loves this multi-course menu: “For an appetizer, a chestnut, apple and celery soup with foie gras. Then risotto with white truffle. Risotto is convenient for conversation, and with white truffle it smells yummy. To finish, you have a stew. Then after that, the cheese—always a stinky cheese, a blue cheese, a hard cheese like a comté, then an époisse, then a goat cheese. The cheese is important because then you can open another good bottle of wine! [laughs] Last, a fig tart with almonds and nuts and cinnamon ice cream.”