Imagine if…

Let’s play a game. Imagine if you were hosting a bachelorette party and wanted to have a fun ladies’ night in, with a personal chef (or two) to guide your guests through making a multi-course dinner paired with wines. Imagine that chef is me, and my friend Vanessa.

I don’t often mention this on the blog, but Vanessa and I have a little catering biz on the side. It’s not much for now, since we both maintain full time jobs, and we mostly do smaller in-home gatherings like bridal showers and holiday cocktail parties. It’s a lot of fun and really gives us a chance to be creative and do what we love. We’re a great team because we’re usually on the same page about food and yet we each manage to bring new flavors and ideas to the table.

Recently one of our past clients asked if we would be able to run an interactive dinner party for a friend’s bachelorette. But of course! We live for this stuff. The party is next month and planning is still in the works. The concept here (as requested by the hostesses) is that we’ll plan the menu and bring all the ingredients, and guide the guests in preparing the meal themselves. After all, everything tastes better when you’ve put your own love and effort into it! They also requested simple, yet elegant and tasty dishes that the guests would be likely to make again at home.

We’ve come up with two menu options that we’re really excited about. I really loved the experience we had dreaming up these menus. Neither of us had very concrete ideas prior to our planning session, but once we decided on a direction, the ideas kept coming and bouncing off on another. By the end, I really felt like my brain really benefited from all those creative juices flowing! (This is the same reason I blog about food, it’s totally my creative outlet.)

Our menus are inspired by the flavors of the Mediterranean but are by no means limited to one country. We also tried to draw upon seasonal and symbolic Spring ingredients to create menus that are well-balanced and flow nicely. Anyway, we’re totally anxious to hear what our clients pick, so in the meantime, I’m putting it out for you! I have a feeling that neither of these will end up being the exact final version as I anticipate little changes might occur, but for now, tell me this:

What do you think of hosting this kind of dinner party for your friends, where a personal chef or caterer would guide you as you prepare a meal, learn how the ingredients come together, and finally, how each dish pairs with a wine? And, if this were your party, which menu would you pick?

Menu 1
1st Course
Sizzling haloumi cheese with roasted asparagus and tomatoes in lemon-caper vinaigrette

2nd Course
Israeli Shakshuka: Soft-baked eggs in a spicy vegetable ragu accompanied by pita and hummus

3rd Course
Roasted chicken thighs with fennel, orange, rosemary and olives; spiced raisin quinoa cake

Menu 2
1st Course
Savory herbed crepes; citrus, fennel and shaved parmesan; prosecco vinaigrette

2nd Course
Roasted beet risotto with crispy prosciutto and fontina

3rd Course
Herb-crusted rack of lamb with warm lentil-apple salad

Each course would be paired with an appropriate Mediterranean red or white wine, but we’ll narrow those down once we finalize the menu. And there will be a 4th course for each menu: Dessert! Still working on that as well, but we’re thinking about a delish little trio that would include vanilla panna cotta, some indulgent chocolate, and cheese.

Can’t wait to hear what you think!

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21 Responses to “Imagine if…”

  1. 1

    Gwyn — February 24, 2010 @ 4:10 am Reply

    I think that sounds like so much fun!!! I would personally prefer Menu 2 – because i'm not a big fan of eggs… & LOVE crepes, risotto, beets, lamb… yummy!!! Hope you have great success!

  2. 2

    Shanon — February 24, 2010 @ 4:35 am Reply

    i would love either menu! but if i were at a restaurant and got to choose, I would pick menu 2. i think your concept for hosting a dinner party is great! i think a lot of my friends would love it!

  3. 3

    UKYankee — February 24, 2010 @ 8:34 am Reply

    I love the idea of menu two. If I saw the recipes, I'd definitely make it at home. Looks elegant and yet simple. Best of luck with the party!

  4. 4

    mungersmurf — February 24, 2010 @ 11:32 am Reply

    Dude, it would be way cooler paired with coffees ;) (or beer)Menu 2 is more up my alley!Cool idea. I've often thought of doing something like this (but more choosing pairings for a menu, with coffee or beer)

  5. 5

    Suzanne — February 24, 2010 @ 12:52 pm Reply

    Wow, that sounds amazing! I also like the sound of menu 2. There's something so kind of decadent about lamb that people don't necessarily eat all the time, I think it makes it more special. AND I never say no to risotto!

  6. 6

    Elina — February 24, 2010 @ 1:12 pm Reply

    That's awesome, Cara! I'd pick menu #2. I think this business idea is great. How do you spread the word about it? Sounds like many people could be interested in something like this.When I was in Singapore, a cooking lesson with this one woman was the #1 thing to do there. She teaches cooking in her own kitchen at home and then once a month, she teaches a longer class at a remote island where you pick your herbs first and then cook with them (that's the one we did). It was cool. Here is my old post about it if you're interested :) http://healthyandsane.com/2009/04/cookery-magic-learning-how-to-cook-in-singapore/

  7. 7

    Meghan — February 24, 2010 @ 2:10 pm Reply

    I love the idea of a interactive party! It sounds like so much fun. I would pick Menu 1 – it sounds so delicious!

  8. 8

    Ashlee Wetherington — February 24, 2010 @ 2:15 pm Reply

    I think both menus look fantastic. I'd probably choose #2 because I know my friends are always asking me how to make risotto, and they're so amazed at how easy it is at home. Also, I would think more people are comfortable cooking chicken, but a rack of lamb would be new and informative. And crepes are just so fun and another informative experience.

  9. 9

    mrsdand — February 24, 2010 @ 2:30 pm Reply

    They both sound so delicious and I would want to try them both! But, the one that has my mouth watering is #2— you have some of my favorite food items in the world in there: parmiggiano cheese, fennel, prosecco (ok that's a wine), and prosciutto. Who's italian? ;-) For the concept of a party, I think that #2 is probably more familiar, unless the hostess has all foodie friends….in which case she is lucky! I think this is a great business idea, what an awesome party idea! LOVE IT!

  10. 10

    Shannon — February 24, 2010 @ 2:51 pm Reply

    a) awesome that you have a small catering business!! (envy :))b) fabulous idea for a partyc) Menu 1ps- loved the idea of eggplant in the lettuce wraps! have to do that next time :)

  11. 11

    yumventures — February 24, 2010 @ 3:11 pm Reply

    I love this idea! I think it is a GREAT idea for a party!! I would definitely pick Menu 1, but substitute course 3 for the course 3 in Menu 2 because..well..because its lamb :) So awesome you have a little catering gig =)

  12. 12

    Sara1817 — February 24, 2010 @ 4:39 pm Reply

    I think it would be a lot of fun to have a dinner party like that! I would choose menu #1, although #2 also sounds amazing. If it helps both menus contain a lot of things I don't eat very often or have never tried, so I have no idea what the flavors would be like. I'm hungry now!

  13. 13

    beeskneeslife — February 24, 2010 @ 4:49 pm Reply

    This sounds like so much fun, and I honestly would like either menu! I think I am leaning towards #2 simply because I want to rediscover beets, and I have never had lamb before – for shame, I know.

  14. 14

    Linda — February 24, 2010 @ 5:02 pm Reply

    Menu #2. Sounds like so much fun. I love the idea. I'd want to learn something new, taste things I might not have tried before.

  15. 15

    Dawn — February 24, 2010 @ 7:17 pm Reply

    I love # one with the pita and hummus and spiced quinoa cake. I would LOVE to do this. In fact I was asked to cater a party but since I work full time as well and have an 18 month old daughter it was just going to be too much. I was SO bummed because catering on the side is what I really wanted to get into! I can't wait to hear more about this. Keep us all posted Cara so I can live vicariously through you!

  16. 16

    MM — February 24, 2010 @ 8:39 pm Reply

    I would say menu 2 for two reasons. 1. The actual courses appeal to me more and 2. it would be better for a learn things they can do at home kind of party as once you can make that crepe, you can make all kinds of other crepes and ditto for risotto. Get them comfortable with technique as well as with the menu item and you are serving them very well indeed!

  17. 17

    Janet — February 25, 2010 @ 3:10 am Reply

    I recently hosted a dinner party like this with my friends. We didn't hire a personal chef, but instead I taught my friends how to cook several different dishes for the dinner. I would suggest you print up a packet of the night's recipes for the guests. I did this for my friends and they loved it!I can't wait to hear how your event goes!

  18. 18

    Kerstin — February 25, 2010 @ 4:38 am Reply

    How cool you have your own little catering business! Sounds like so much fun!My vote is for menu 2!

  19. 19

    Dawn — April 5, 2011 @ 1:17 am Reply

    I love # one with the pita and hummus and spiced quinoa cake. I would LOVE to do this. In fact I was asked to cater a party but since I work full time as well and have an 18 month old daughter it was just going to be too much. I was SO bummed because catering on the side is what I really wanted to get into! I can't wait to hear more about this. Keep us all posted Cara so I can live vicariously through you!

  20. 20

    Linda — April 5, 2011 @ 1:17 am Reply

    Menu #2. Sounds like so much fun. I love the idea. I'd want to learn something new, taste things I might not have tried before.

  21. 21

    mrsdand — April 5, 2011 @ 1:17 am Reply

    They both sound so delicious and I would want to try them both! But, the one that has my mouth watering is #2— you have some of my favorite food items in the world in there: parmiggiano cheese, fennel, prosecco (ok that's a wine), and prosciutto. Who's italian? ;-) For the concept of a party, I think that #2 is probably more familiar, unless the hostess has all foodie friends….in which case she is lucky! I think this is a great business idea, what an awesome party idea! LOVE IT!

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