Star New York chef Anita Lo, author of the upcoming Cooking Without Borders, gives her tips on having the perfect summer party.
Involve guests in the process
Lo will take her guests clamming or fishing during the day, or stop to pick up fresh corn from a farm stand. If you don’t live near the beach, farmer’s markets are a great idea or even just a great fish market near your home.
Give the food a romantic narrative
Do you cook whole lobsters because you grew up on the coast of Maine? Is there a family dessert that has a secret ingredient? Bring your experience into the food; make it more personal and memorable.
Serve food that involves participation
Lo will barbeque Korean style and have her guests wrap the food in lettuce leaves. But there are so many options for fun food. Make grilled fajitas and let guests top their own tortillas. Or grill crab legs and dip the flesh in flavored butters. Even setting up toppings for burgers and hot dogs gets people involved in preparation.
Get too ambitious and experiment on your guests
Forget to offer seasonings
“A lot of home cooks don’t know how to season well,” she says. “Be sure to offer salt on the table.”
Don’t let guests do everything
Lo doesn’t go so far as to let her guests take over the grill—unless she knows them well.