Entertaining Bella Style

Its December 1st and the holiday season is upon us. I will be bringing you twelve days of Entertaining for the Holiday’s Advise. Yes you can take it or leave it, you will not hurt my feelings :). With 15 years of cooking, entertaining, catering, cooking classes and restaurant work I am sure you will find some of my advise helpful.

Day number one advise: Hand a glass of wine and a wooden spoon to a friend. What do I mean by that? Do not hesitate to solicit help from your dinner guests and friends. I have been doing it for years. Do not try to be a rock star or martyr in the kitchen. It is such a great feeling to have your guests completely enjoy the evening, it is even a better feeling for you to be enjoying it with them!

Seriously… I remember one year, long before I became a chef and I was hosting a dinner party. Half of my recipes were from Martha Stewart, and I insisted on cooking everything not allowing any of my guests to help. One of the stupidest things I have ever done. I do have a long list. One: Martha (I love her) has the longest a$$ recipes I have ever seen. Some are three pages long. I had so much time involved in this dinner and worked so hard that I did not truly enjoy it. And I was not super happy when my guests did not realize how much work was involved. Lets face it friends, people who do not cook sometimes do not realize all the hours involved. I learned a lesson that evening I wanted to enjoy the dinner party as much as my guests. How should I accomplish this, you ask? Drag their a$$ in the kitchen with me. Yep you got it. Have a glass and bottle of wine (or Cartizze) and they will follow.

Think about evenings spent cooking with friends. For me it is some of my fondest memories. When in Italy with family and friends I don’t even wait to be asked into the kitchen I bull doze my way in. I want to learn and watch and be part of everything that is happening. Many of times I hand a glass of wine that comes with a wooden spoon to stir risotto. Or hand a glass of wine and teach a friend how to roll pasta. Or sometimes I decide  to throw a dinner party with new recipes and when a guest or friend asks if they can bring something sometimes I give them a list of ingredients to bring, or tell them just to come. But I do say you will be in the kitchen cooking with me. I do not think I have offended any of my friends or family by doing this…. how do I know? I never have a shortage of friends at my dinner parties, they keep coming back. Sometimes they learn something new, sometimes they find a new recipe to add to their favorites.

This holiday season when you are planning your parties I encourage you to think of how you will enjoy this party as much as your guests. Plan your party accordingly and follow through with it. If one of your guests is not happy with this new idea of helping you, there are two ways to handle this. One, never invite them again, because really how much fun are they? Really? Two give them my phone number and I will sort it all out for you 🙂

Signing off for now…. I bet you can’t wait to read more of my helpful hints for an enjoyable holiday & entertaining season.

Chef, Shelly