Wouldn’t it be great if you could not only spread the work of cooking, but also spread the joy of cooking when you had dinner parties? We’ve been working on a highly experimental form of dinner partying called “cooking by committee” and we think we’re onto something*. Here’s the idea: get your guests involved in a quasi democratic kitchen extravaganza and they will not only be more excited about the food, they will have more fun at your parties and leave more satisfied. Here are the 4 crucial rules you should follow to make sure your cooking by committee experience goes off without a hitch.
1. Invite Your Guests Over Early
No one likes to show up and see everyone at the table waiting for them. Instead of trying to time your cooking and your guest’s arrival, (does that ever really work out like you planned?) why not invite your guests over early so they can be part of the preparation and cooking. This means they get to smell the smells and enjoy the cooking process with you!
2. Make It Up As You Go Along
Well not exactly, but why be married to your recipes? Cooking is just as social as eating, and a great way to get your guests involved is to ask them how they think you should sautee the onion or how much pepper they like. Not only will you learn new tricks from your friends, you will also be able to tailor the meal to your guest’s tastes. Instead of your guests’ heads exploding from how much chile powder you added to the meal, you can ask them their preference before hand! No one likes exploding heads right?
3. Put Your Guests to Work!
Another great way to get people involved and excited about the meal is to put them to work! Nothing too serious, you know chop a vegetable here, mash a potato there, but enough to keep them busy and engaged. People feel uncomfortable if they come to your house and you are doing all the work. Why not let them help out? That way when they put that first delicious bite in their mouth, they can feel proud that THEY were partially responsible for your raging success of a dinner party!
4. Make Sure Everyone is Snacking and Drinking Along the Way!
Finally, if you actually are going to tease your guests like this and invite them over to a half finished meal (which you really should do), make sure they are not in a state of tortured starvation. Make sure they are well-fed and have plenty to drink. That means keeping some snacks or appetizers around and maybe looking the other way when your friends “taste test” a little more than you would have. It also means having some tasty beverages (adult or otherwise) to ensure that your guests are not thirsty (or cranky).
The best part about cooking by committee is that the whole time you are cooking, the excitement is building and people are mingling and working together on a fun project. That means that when the food is ready, everyone is going to be so giddy and excited to taste the fruits of their labour that even if everything isn’t exactly perfect, it doesn’t really matter.
WARNING: this technique can result in long periods of silence whilst your hungry guests focus on their food. That means you were successful.
Let us know how cooking by committee goes for you!
*A special thanks goes out to Eugene of MiddleFeast who has been a key contributor to this research.