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Essentials of Entertaining

Essentials of Entertaining

How do you pull off a great dinner party? We asked some food industry insiders for their favorite go-to items for successful entertaining.

Styled by Holly Cowart

June Rodil

Beverage Director, McGuire Moorman Hospitality

Item 1: Mother of Pearl caviar spoons
Obtained: Gifted to us by my dear friend Rebecca Meeker along with a variety pack of different caviars

“Caviar, in all its ranges, is one of my favorite things to serve because a) it’s delicious and b) it requires little cooking for a huge impact. It’s great with champagne —another favorite — and tends to be a communal food item that people huddle around and creates great conversation. The mother of pearl spoons as a serving utensils (allegedly) deter any off-flavors to impart on the delicate caviar, but really I mostly love the way they look — they’re beautiful and elegant.”

Sarah McMackin

Owner, The Beer Plant

Item 2: “Vegetable Literacy” (cookbook) by Deborah Madison
Obtained: Gifted to me by my former boss and dear friend Sara Baer-Sinnott at Oldways, a non-profit that advocates cultural food traditions for nutrition and public health

“As a longtime vegan, my creative dinner party planning starts with a vegetable. One of my favorite parts of “Vegetable Literacy” is Deborah’s companion guides: for every member of the plant kingdom she writes about (vegetables, herbs, grains or beans), she includes a list of perfect ingredient companions to create something remarkable. Scored fairy tale eggplants at Central Market? Pair them with chard, tahini, chickpeas, parsley, or capers. Celery root bulbs on hand? Drizzle with walnut oil or homemade aioli, pair with hazelnuts, pear or sorrel. “Vegetable Literacy” is a crash course for cooking inspiration and education. If food talk is what you’re into, it’ll have everyone talking about a meal.”

Ashley Cheng

Co-Owner, SPUN Ice Cream

Item 3: Cheese platters
Obtained: Purchased at Karacotta

“I love simple, neutral white platters like these from Karacotta, which create a clean backdrop to let the food shine. With a quick stop at Antonelli’s Cheese Shop around the corner, it’s the perfect combination for last-minute entertaining. I love that these are all hand-thrown from a locally-made claybody called Longhorn White with a 1” lip around the edge to contain your snacks. Plus, I get to support another Austin woman-owned business!”

Mia Li

Chef de Cuisine, Kuneho

Item 4: Cambodian silver demitasse spoons
Obtained: Picked up while traveling through Siem Reap, Cambodia

“I always pull these spoons out when serving coffee while hosting dinner parties. It’s a conversation starter on travels through Southeast Asia. During my time through Cambodia I was extremely moved by the hospitality the Cambodians still carried through their culture as the country is still trying to rebuild from a terrible time in their history.”

Kris Swift

Creative Director, Jacoby’s

Item 5: Vintage Depression-Era Hobnail pieces
Obtained: Purchased at Jacoby’s Restaurant & Mercantile

“Vintage Hobnail is my go-to because it has so much character. I really enjoy mixing heirloom pieces in with newer tablescapes when entertaining because it reminds me of my grandmother. I also love that this particular pattern is dishwasher safe even though it’s a bonafide antique.”

Read more from the Food Issue | July 2017