With the warmer season here, many of us will be thinking about summer entertaining and how we can best prepare for hosting events.
As a chef, restaurateur and former MasterChef contestant, Sarah Todd knows a thing or two about preparing food and entertaining guests.
“Summer is the best time for relaxed get-togethers with family and friends, and the warmer weather means you can truly take advantage of beautiful outdoor spaces,” Todd said.
Whether you’re hosting an outdoor barbecue, a garden picnic or a dinner party, here are some of Todd’s best kept secrets to make summer entertaining a success:
Prepare everything in advance
Todd said it’s best to prepare all dishes the day before, as much as possible, to alleviate any pressure and last-minute rushing around on the day of your event.
“It’s about making sure you don’t have to do too much when your guests are actually there,” she said.
A grain salad is Todd’s go-to side dish as it can be made the day before and kept in the fridge. She makes the dressing and keeps it in a separate container, then adds it to the salad right before serving.
Todd is also a fan of marinades because it can sit overnight and brings incredible flavour to meats and proteins.
“One of my favourite recipes is marinated lamb. Marinate a lamb shoulder (boneless) the day before so when the guests arrive you basically pop it onto the barbecue, shut the lid, leave it for 40 minutes, and it’s perfect,” Todd said.
Serve smaller and smarter
If you’re managing a party where guests will be arriving at different times throughout the day, prepare the food in smaller portions so you can maintain its freshness.
As an ambassador for kitchenware brand ClickClack, Todd often makes use of storage containers to separate food into portions.
Todd said it’s best to avoid putting your side salads into one large bowl at the start of the event and rather opt for separating the salad into two or three containers and bring them out to the party as needed.
“This way, salads can remain chilled and kept as fresh as possible in an airtight container until being served,” she said.
Keep herbs cool and fresh
Todd is a huge advocate of dressing up dishes with herbs and using them to add a final flourish to a dish.
But how can you prepare herbs in advance and ensure they’ll be fresh on the day of entertaining?
“With fresh herbs, get a paper towel and dampen it, wrap the herbs up in the paper towel, put it in a container and store it in the fridge. They’ll stay super fresh, vibrant and really crisp,” Todd said.
Opt for a charcuterie board
For summer entertaining, Todd recommends preparing dishes and platters that are easy to bring together.
“Have a big charcuterie table – grab the biggest chopping board in your house and fill it with cured meats, dips, cheeses, crudités, fruit and vegetables,” she said.
A charcuterie board or mixed platter is not only impressive, it also gives guests the ability to pick and choose what they’d like to eat while catering to any dietary requirements.
“People are realising that they don’t do so well with everything and often feel like they have to eat what is put in front of them. But if they do have dietary requirements, a charcuterie board is amazing – people can pick and choose what they want,” Todd said.