Tips and Tricks for Party Planning/Catering

Posted by Miles Carroll on July 08, 2014 (1 Comment)


In French medieval cuisine, banquets were common among the aristocracy. Multiple courses would be served in a style called service en confusion; although it sounds confusing, it simply means everything was served at once. Even way back, French culinary acumen trumped most cultures as they understood and implemented a concept called mise en place. Pronounced MEEZ ahn ploss, it translates to “everything in place.” Its importance cannot be overstated; it is a state-of-mind that when applied to any kitchen, will result in a smooth-flowing, time saving process, particularly beneficial when preparing more than one recipe, and serving many guests.

A few minutes with a pen and paper (Wunderlist app on an iPhone also does the trick) will prevent anxiety and ensure seamless execution. Have you ever started a recipe only to find out you were missing one or two of the key ingredients? No big deal when you’re at home and can substitute or ask a friendly neighbor to spot a cup of sugar but not so fun when you’re catering on unfamiliar turf.

Okay! Let’s get started:

  1. Write the dishes you plan on serving.

  2. List ingredients for every recipe.

  3. Set aside equipment you will need.

  4. Pre-measure ingredients.

  5. Chop, dice, grate, sift as needed for each dish. Depending on the venue, I’ll even hardboil eggs and blanch vegetables ahead of time. I also blend and roast my spices, even if I plan on roasting on site to tease my guest’s palate with the aroma. One can never have too many beautifully roasted, blended spices!

  6. Put into small, portable dishes; I prefer Glasslock, they are leakproof and nest well.

  7. I use big, insulated bags (markets like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods sell great ones) to transfer to my destination, whether a family picnic or larger catering event.

  8. Assemble serving equipment. Get creative! For example, I’ll serve my delicious Sri Lankan fried rice in vertically halved pineapples. The presentation is beautiful and the flavors continue to meld.

Voila, you’re good to go! Each portable station is fully prepped with all the necessary ingredients. Meats, chicken, and fish are cut and de boned, fresh herbs are washed, cut, and separated, vegetables are sliced, diced, or julienned, spices are blended.

Timing is an integral part of cooking almost any cuisine. Now that you’ve embraced the Mise en Place state of mind you’ve anticipated and prepared, you can elegantly prioritize and multi-task, stress-free. Delicious.

Comments (1 Comment)

The hardest thing for me is preparing the right amount of food. Would you say that it is better to prepare more food than necessary or slightly less? I really like the idea of preparing everything before you go, but putting them in little bags. These should definitely help with getting everything done faster.

Posted by Regina on May 19, 2015

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