Small portions make for easy consumption and keep the conversation going.
Inarguably, Summer is the season for entertaining. For most of us, this means good food and great wine, and making the most of these things on a warm, sun filled patio with a few of our closest friends. The problem that can disrupt this otherwise picturesque scenario is summer’s best friend - the BBQ – as it does not make for the most social of cooking tools. Rather, it can on occasion force us to have our backs turned to our guests while we carefully tend to a sizzling steak or grilled burgers. Chef Toben and his sister, Elana Kochman, Catering Director of Toben Food by Design, have provided us with ways to change all of that and to put the art of hosting back into summer entertaining.
Serving up extraordinary food combinations with visually pleasing plating isn’t all that this duo is about – they are also pros at entertaining. Here they provided me with some ideas for how to host the perfect summer soiree with ease and panache, while managing to enjoy a glass of wine with my guests.
The dynamic culinary entertaining duo: Elana Kochman and Chef Toben of Toben Food By Design.
For Chef Toben and Elana, summer entertaining grace comes mostly from what is accomplished ahead of time behind the scenes. For them, preparation is key. They presented three hearty, yet refined, summer salads that could be easily prepared ahead of time. These included; a sumptuous Summer Nova Scotia Lobster Salad; a refreshing Jerk Seared Tuna and Island Chopped Salad; and a warm Seared “AAA” Angus Beef Ribeye Steak and Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Salad.
Quick tips from Chef Toben:
- When making a potato salad it is always good to roast instead of boil your potatoes as they will hope their shape and texture much better.
- Garnish each salad with beautiful microgreens such as pea tendrils or celery cress as they will add that ‘wow’ factor for your guests when they look down at your beautiful creation.
- Have the experts do it for you and ask your local fishmonger to cook your lobster for you and remove the meat from the shells.
Presentation tips from Elana:
- Entertaining doesn't have to be expensive. Find simple square glass flower vases (try Ikea!) and flip them upside down for an easy pedestal upon which to present your sumptuous salads.
- Long platters will come in handy for group-plating and will give a professional feel to the more casual 'family style' serving.
- Simple accents, such as colourful striped paper straws, give an added touch of decor and attention to detail that your guests will appreciate.
This summer, find simplicity in the elegance of a refined salad with rich ingredients. Impress your guests by sparing yourself the time in the kitchen and enjoying a glass of fine wine over conversation. Nothing impresses more than a calm, cool, and enchanting hostess. Salut!
For more info on Chef Toben and Toben Food by Design, reach them here:
Carolyn Desrosiers is the lifestyle blogger behind covetedclassics.com. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @covetedclassics.