5 Tips for Hosting Your Next Super Bowl Party

Buy the right serveware so your food is easy to pass around at a party.
Your serveware is just as important as the food!

Why You Should Entertain at Home

It’s the Super Bowl this weekend and you should have a party.

People don’t entertain in their homes much anymore. Maybe it’s just my experience because I live in NYC and most apartments are the size of generous walk-in closets. However, even before moving here, it was rare that we’d be invited over to a friend’s. Instead, we met for drinks or reserved a table.

But entertaining at home is more personal. You are sharing your private space. You are demonstrating that your guests are worthy of forethought and effort. No waiter is there to serve as a third-party distraction or drop a check signaling that your time is up.

I’m guessing you are now thinking to yourself, YES, that’s exactly why I don’t have people over. Too scary.

However, there is no better time to start than the Super Bowl. The evening’s entertainment is already built in. People don’t have super high expectations about the food. As long as you have cold beer, a few snacks, a comfortable couch (or cushions on the floor), and a TV, you’re set.

Not convinced yet? As a private chef who regularly prepares memorable meals for 15 in just a few hours, and who prides herself on her ability to throw together a last-minute gathering, let me share a few tips on how you can do it and actually have fun in the process.

Here's what a typical What We Eat gathering looks like.
What We Eat knows how to throw a feast.

Party-Hosting Hacks

  1. Plan the right menu. The right menu..
    • Is easy-to-execute. Choose one that can be made almost entirely ahead of time. You should be able to enjoy your party with your guests.
    • Includes components that can be store-bought and/or delegated to friends. Don’t be a hero. Find a prepared foods purveyor you like and use it. When friends ask what they can bring, actually give them something. People like to contribute.
    • Keeps your guests’ preferences in mind. It’s nice to ask if they have any when you extend the invitation just so you make sure everyone feels taken care of. When in doubt, serve a BYO meal (build-your-own). People of all ages enjoy customizing their own dish.
      The fixin’s for Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili bowls.
      • Here are several Super Bowl-appropriate easy menus:
        • BYO Chili Bar (easy cooking)
          • Your favorite homemade chili with bowls of full fat Greek yogurt or sour cream, sliced avocado, thinly red onion, pulled store-bought rotisserie chicken (if chili is vegetarian), shredded cheddar, cilantro, baked tortillas strips and/or brown rice, and lime wedges
          • Delegate chips/salsa/guacamole, a simple salad and dessert
        • BYO Sandwich Bar (minimal to no cooking required)
          • Fresh French bread and a selection of high-quality thinly sliced meats and cheeses, store-bought or homemade chicken-salad or egg-salad, shredded romaine, sliced tomatoes and red onions, pickles and/or pickled vegetables, hot peppers, mustard and mayo
          • Delegate potato chips and a fun dip, a simple salad and dessert
        • Antipasto Party (minimal to no cooking required)
          • Cheeses – gorgonzola, Grana Padano, mozzarella and taleggio
          • Meats – salami, mortadella, capicola and prosciutto
          • Grissini, focaccia and crackers
          • Cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumber
          • Giardiniera, olives and pepperoncini
          • Grapes and/or sliced apples
          • Marcona almonds and/or pistachios
          • Delegate any of these components and/or dessert
        • Pizza Delivery and Homemade Salads (concentrates all effort on one or two special salads)
  2. Enlist the help of your guests. With the exceptions of doing the dishes, most people like being assigned a duty while at a party. Who doesn’t like a sense of purpose? Good assignments are drink duty (making sure everyone gets a drink quickly and stays topped up), easy chopping and plating of dishes.
  3. Lay out serveware, and set the table or wrap silverware in cloth or paper napkins up to a few days ahead of time. This gets your wheels turning about what you need to do and eliminates any last-minute scramble to find that right dip bowl or platter.
  4. If the clean-up is what stops you from having people over, use disposable stuff. Eco-friendly disposable bamboo plates are an attractive and sturdy choice. It’s nice to use your own flatware but if you don’t have enough, there are plenty of great looking options.
  5. My golden rule: No matter what, always have a drink in hand, candles lit and music on as guests arrive. This signals to your guests that you are relaxed and having fun and they’ll follow suit. Even if I haven’t showered, unpacked the groceries, etc. I’ll do these three things.

Above all else, have faith that your party is going to be awesome. When you invite people over, it’s your responsibility to provide the venue and organize good drinks, food and a little entertainment, whether that’s the game or a solid playlist. It’s your guests’ responsibility to show up and have a good time.

Let this Super Bowl be your gateway into home entertaining for all occasions. Let’s #bringbackthedinnerparty!

BYO Hawaiian Bowls

Vegetarian? Vegan? Gluten Free? Nut allergy? Onion phobia? These days being a private chef can be challenging. Each week we work hard to dish out new and inspired menus while keeping careful track of everyone’s allergies, intolerances and preferences. It’s not easy and our build-your-own-bowls have quickly become our saving grace and inadvertently our biggest sensations. We prep all the components into separate serve-ware, giving our clients full reign. It’s up to them to decide what they’re in the mood for and don’t think we’re not curious. We really envy that fly on the wall. I mean, it must be kind of crazy coming home to a counter full of mise-en-place and not know what the chef envisioned for the end result. BYO night resembles a quintessential taco night (always my favorite dinner growing up) with all the fixings laid out for you to pick and choose.

Obviously, we know what we would do and it takes all the strength in the world to keep from sprinkling the herbs in with the salad or smearing the garlicky yogurt on the bottom of the platter. We also know it’s true that this is your meal at the end of the day and maybe you had cheese for lunch or you’re just not feeling that tahini drizzle on your sweet potatoes. By far the best news we get is when one of our client’s kids changes their mind about salmon or roasted carrots and I have to think that the BYO is responsible for these little victories.

We also have to think that maybe our clients want some direction. I know from my own life that my BYO dinners usually turn into a show and tell. My boyfriend will say, “I want to see how you do it”. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve explained a menu to a friend or family member forgetting that BYO isn’t a commonplace acronym. Prompting my third recipe-video, I wanted to show how I would construct my own bowl for our clients who are used to this lingo and also respond to the BYO quarries I get from everyone else. We gathered at Laura’s for our usual Friday staff lunch and spent the afternoon prepping ingredients like we would for our clients. Then, with cameras rolling, I constructed my bowl.

A behind-the-scenes look at the BYO Hawaiian Bowl shoot

This bowl, in particular, was taken from one of our weekly menus and happened to be an experiment. As chefs, we’re constantly on the hunt for unique ingredients to broaden our directory of ingredients and culinary repertoire and plantains were one such, exotic thing that sparked our curiosity. It was the first week we had our first glimpse of spring and we were all craving something light and tropical (or maybe a vacation :)). This bowl was the brainchild of our chief menu strategist, Rian, and, lets be honest, no one doubted it’s viability. In the end in was fun to built our own bowls and admire each other’s different plated creations, not to mention walk in our clients shoes for an afternoon.

By far the best part about BYOs is the versatility. If the store doesn’t have mangos, pineapple would make a great substitute. The opportunities for experimentation and adaptability are endless. This is the first BYO video, but it’s certainly not the last. Stay tuned for more BYO demos!

With love, Charlotte.

BYO Hawaiian Bowls (as they appear in the video):

Sticky sushi rice, baby spinach, crispy pan-fried salmon (alt: pan fried tofu or pork carnitas), pan seared plantains, roasted carrots, sliced mango, shaved radish, cucumber moons, blanched edamame, sliced avocado, scallions + cilantro, mandolined jalapeños, tangy cilantro-coconut dressing, toasted sesame seeds (black and white) + pepitas and lime zest

Some other recent BYO favorites that might peak your interest:

BYO Super Green Spring Bowls

Fried or poached eggs, boston + butter lettuce, farro, quartered radish, blanched peas, blanched asparagus, blanched sugar snaps, avocado, cucumber moons, toasted hazelnuts, whipped feta, scallions + basil + mint and lemon + thyme vinaigrette

BYO Steak Cobb Salad Bowls

Seared and sliced steak of choice, brown rice, crumbled bacon, romaine+watercress+endive, cherry tomatoes, avocado, pickled red onion, radish, crumbled blue cheese, hard boiled eggs, crispy chickpeas, roasted sunchokes (also called Jerusalem artichokes – http://whatweeat.nyc/jerusalem-artichokes/), cucumber moons, parsley + chives and red wine-dijon vinaigrette

BYO Glazed Korean Meatball Bowls

Korean glazed meatballs (alt. tofu), butter lettuce, brown rice, roasted shiitake mushrooms, sauteed baby bok choy, blanched broccolini, avocado, cucumber, toasted black and white sesame seeds, scallions + cilantro, ginger dressing)

BYO Honey-Dijon Roasted Pork Tenderloin Bowls

Fluffy quinoa, thinly sliced apples, roasted sweet potato cubes, arugula + baby spinach, dried cranberries, cucumber, avocado, goat cheese, mint, toasted slivered almonds, apple cider vinaigrette

Feel free to ask about any of these recipes or preparations in the comments section!