Hosting a gathering of colleagues and clients doesn’t have to be a painstaking task. By following a few simple rules you can reduce angst and have an impressive soiree. Creating an atmosphere where guests feel comfortable eating, drinking and socializing is the goal. Food should be easy to ingest, drinks should be premium brands and your theme should be consistent throughout the soiree. Thoughtful planning is the first step to a successful event. Juan Montier, founder of Montier Designs (www.chezmontier.com) says, proportion, style, scale and lighting are “critical to the three facets of entertaining: food, flora, and décor.”
THEME DEFINES AMBIANCE: The theme of your soiree should be distinctive from the front door to the powder room. A tapas themed soiree “allows guests to sample food from around the world,” states Montier, who counts music legend Diana Ross on his impressive list of clients. Try tapas such as doro wat from Ethiopia, curry seafood from India, or beef bourguignonne from France. Build the décor with aqua, lime, and lemon-colored square clay plates; accessorize with tall, thick red, orange and aqua candles in hurricane lamps and tan glazed clay pots and serve drinks in thick glass tumblers.
USE THE RIGHT LIGHT: Lighting is a significant component, offers Montier. “Establish three levels of lighting: indirect lighting using floor cans, mid-level lighting with lamps and candles so guests who are sitting get a sparkle, and highlights from above so your food presentation glistens.”
LEAN MENU OFFERS MORE: Serving small bites is a big trend in entertaining: Frenching grilled ribs, lamb chops, and chicken drumettes or using skewers for a Wild West-themed barbecue. “Offer a flight of wine (a tasting of three or four varieties), also do this with your desserts. This lets your guests experience a full range of flavors and not feel guilty.” Communal tables are a popular trend but they have to be accessible. Be sure not to set communal tables so that guests have to raise their leg to sit as with a bench. Smaller tables (30″ to 36″ wide) allow for a comfortable exchange of conversation. Larger tables tend to isolate those who are not actually sitting next to someone.
Hire support staff when you entertain more than eight guests, advises Montier. “As the host, you improve the experience by being present with your guests, especially if entertaining executives. Remember, you are doing this to enhance relationships.” For inspiration, check out Jung Lee’s amazing creations at http://www.feteny.com.