Host your own dinner party with these top three ideas:
Let’s be honest here, what is there not to love about a dinner party?
You’ve got great food, drinks and company, plus the added bonuses of not having to wait for a table or divide the bill at the end of the night.
But when it comes to planning one at home, where do you begin?
Gathar founder and CEO Jodie Mlikota says the key to a successful evening is to start with the food.
“The first step is to decide what type of cuisine you’d like to serve,” she says.
“Then it’s time to choose how many courses you’ll prepare.”
“Finally, start researching recipes and finalise your menu.”
While selecting the different dishes can be the best part, it can also be the most overwhelming.
Gone are the days of simple fondue nights or barbecues.
Australia’s multicultural society, coupled with our foodie culture, means there are a plethora of cuisines on offer, some more complex than others when it comes to cooking.
Here are some menu ideas to take your dinner parties to the next level:
Say Mexican and most people’s minds automatically think tacos and nachos.
But there is so much more to this cuisine than Tex Mex, including dips, fresh seafood, spiced vegetables and slow-cooked meat.
Gathar co-founder Nick Jurd encourages people to think outside the box and have fun when it comes to preparing a Mexican feast.
“Mexico is known for its bright colours and out-there celebrations, like the Day of the Dead,” she says.
“Don’t be afraid to get creative with both the food and the decor.
“Serve garnishes like avocado and coriander in different sized and coloured bowls.
“And don’t forget the margaritas!”
Ms Jurd says Mexican is also ideal for sharing.
Her three-course menu pays homage to the traditional fare enjoyed by locals in different parts of the country.
Her Vera Cruz ceviche entree is made using fresh fish, which is marinated in an unusual mix of lime juice and passionfruit.
The main, Mole Poblano, is Mexico’s national dish.
A sous vide veal fillet is served with a complex sauce and topped off with some bright pineapple salsa and freshly-made corn chips.
Finally, there is dessert.
Mexican cuisine may not be known for the final dish of the night, but that doesn’t mean it should be forgotten.
Ms Jurd mixes chocolate, corn, chilli and pecan together to make a unique mousse that’s fun, exciting and a little bit spicy, just like the cuisine itself. Ole!
If there is a nationality that knows how to entertain better than anyone, it is the Italians.
Coming together to share a meal is one of their favourite pastimes.
Plus, who doesn’t love carbs?
An Italian feast is a great idea for a classic dinner party.
While pasta and pizza will most likely be the heroes of the evening, there are a few things you can do to make your food stand out from the crowd.
Gathar culinarian Christina Laker says making the dough from scratch will add to the authenticity of the night.
“You can also make the evening more interactive, by getting your guests to help with the preparation of the dishes,” she says.
“Get them to cut the pasta or grind up the pesto.
“It’ll lessen the work for you, while also creating lasting memories.”
Ms Laker says it’s also important to use quality ingredients.
“If the recipe uses parmigiano-reggiano or another type of Italian cheese, don’t substitute that for something mass-produced and on sale in your local supermarket,” she says.
“Make a trip to your local deli and buy it there.
“Not only will you be supporting a small business, but you’ll also be able to taste the difference.”
Be sure to finish the night with a traditional Italian dessert such as vinno cotto, as Ms Laker does in her three-course feast, washed down with a glass of wine or port.
If you really want to test your culinary skills and wow your guests, take a leaf out of Gathar chef Danielle Dixon’s book and take a trip to the exotic east.
Japanese cuisine is fresh in flavour but light on calories, meaning you can eat more for less.
Prepare a string of smaller share plates to start to get the party started.
Ms Dixon serves a string of smaller plates like miso soup and edamame to get her parties started.
“These dishes are easy to prepare ahead of time and will look great on a table when served together,” she says.
If you’re feeling brave, you can then practice your knife skills and try your hand at preparing your own sashimi.
But if that sounds too daunting, there are several other dishes to choose from.
Tofu and pork feature heavily in Japanese cuisine.
Ms Dixon says the best way to take the dinner up a notch is to accompany the mains with some simple, yet elegant sides.
“Steamed vegetables and rice are perfect, but so too are lesser-known ones like Japanese salad with cabbage,” she says.
“Be sure to fill some smaller bowls with sesame seeds, soy sauce and other condiments, for more flavour and a decorative edge.”
Of course, one of the downsides to hosting a dinner party at home is the clean-up afterwards.
Gathar chefs will prepare, cook and clean-up, meaning all that’s left for you to do is relax and enjoy.