By Langdon/Hopson Grace
Throwing a dinner party doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you have the right tools at your disposal. Not convinced? We asked Jason Bangerter, one of Canada’s most renowned chefs, to share a few tips on how to host a stress-free dinner. Having worked alongside some of the world’s leading chefs and currently Executive Chef at Langdon Hall Country House Hotel, Bangerter knows a thing or two about pressure. Here, he deconstructs what it takes to throw an elegant yet easy evening.
Q) What’s your secret to throwing a great dinner party?
A) Keep it simple. Prep, prep, prep! Get all the work done before the party so you can enjoy time with your guests.
Q) An appetizer that’s always a hit?
A) A chilled fruit or summer vegetable soup is unusual, full of flavour and always a hit. Several—such as watermelon gazpacho—are featured in Langdon Hall: A Cookbook. They’re simple and delicious! My soups double as a base for a cocktail or martini. Take the watermelon gazpacho, it’s a delicious base for a margarita with gin or tequila and a splash of lime, mint or cilantro muddle.
Q) Favourite dinner party music (pick a playlist, artist or genre)
A) Ha, it changes with my mood and the guests. I love dinner with Adele, jazz, the Tragically Hip, even Drake—I like it all. Lately, I’ve been listening to Adele while I cook. I love music from the ‘80s, so pretty much anything from that genre will get me going.
Q) Assigned seating or not?
A) No, I want people to visit with whomever they like and to be comfortable. I might suggest a mix-up but I don’t do assigned seating. If the guests are regulars, they usually have their special spot selected.
Q) Your favourite wine right now?
A) I just did a Tour de France tasting for charity. I became very intimate with burgundy vineyards and sipped some of the best Chablis, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir around. My favourite sips in the last while have been French Chardonnay from Burgundy, specifically Chassagne Montrachet.
Q) Do you feel obliged to open a guest’s wine?
A) I give them the option, and ask if they would like to enjoy it with me. They usually let me know if it is something they would like me to save for my wife and I to enjoy on another occasion.
Q) Favourite crowd-pleasing dessert?
A) Lemon crinkle cookies, full stop.
Q) Biggest mistake people make when entertaining?
A) Making it too complicated.
Q) Best advice to give a de-stressing host feeling frazzled?
A) Follow all my previous advice and have a glass of Montrachet. Cheers! Happy Cooking.
Reprinted with permission from hopsongrace.com