“Presentation is almost as important as the food you serve,” says Bill Farina of Creative Catering by the Farinas. “You eat with your eyes as well as your mouth.”
Charlotte Wienckoski has worked with Bill for several years coordinating parties ranging from small gatherings to the annual “Have a Heart” extravaganza to benefit Candellighter’s or Brevard. Over the last several years Charlotte and her husband Tom have opened their beautiful Lansing Island home to more than five hundred guests for the Valentine’s Day gala. “I think having some sort of theme for the party makes everything a lot easier,” says Charlotte. “It doesn’t have to be elaborate, it can be simple, but well thought out. It makes it easier to plan, it can guide you through everything-the food, the decorations, and the makes the event seems more special.”
Whether it’s dinner for ten or a buffet for hundreds, planning is essential. “We’ll have a few consultations about the menu,” says Bill, “taking into consideration the season, Charlotte and Tom’s tastes, what they want and who’s coming. The planning process for most night parties starts a few months in advance with everything finalized at least two weeks before the function.”
“Having a professional take care of all of the details certainly helps,” says Charlotte who says her most important role as a hostess is always “to ensure the guests are comfortable.”
Remember who your guests are. “If you have people coming from the Midwest it’s always good to showcase area specialties,” says Bill. “I like to use a lot of fresh seafood. I love dealing with local foods.”
Utilize your space
Folks in from out of town may want to enjoy our spectacular Space Coast weather so plan for some outdoor dining. But always make sure to have a backup plan so if the weather doesn’t cooperate when the party rolls around there are no surprises.
For the Candlelighter’s event Charlotte even incorporates the couple’s spectacular downstairs bathroom, filling the tub with ice and bottles of champagne. It’s always a crowd pleaser and has even become a photo op.
Bill and his staff “utilize a lot of levels when presenting food. It gives everything depth rather than just placing it flat on a table. It makes the food pop!”
Show off a little
Now is the time to bring out those special dishes tucked away in the closet. “Charlotte has a lot of great serving pieces and I’ll take that into account when planning the menu,” says Bill, who will choose specific menu items with that in mind.
What’s hot (besides the food that is)
Bill says, “the trend today is serving small morsels with intense flavors. Something like the upside down devilled eggs are a quick bite with five levels of flavor.”
Professional bartender/hostess Sue Rice, owner of “Company’s Coming” says her Cucumber Mojito is a big hit these days. Working with Bill to ensure the drink menu compliments the food selection she says guests still enjoy the standards-cosmopolitans, gin and tonics, Whiskey and soda. “I have noticed that wine has increased in popularity over the past couple of years,” says Sue. “And any time someone breaks out rum from Nicaragua it’s always a big hit.” Having a fancy signature drink tied to the party’s theme is always a good idea. “I’ve noticed that it’s the women who are more inclined to break away and try something new while men tend to stick with the familiar.”
Hosts would do well to focus on foods that don’t need to be cooked. You don’t want to be running around in the kitchen when you’re guests are enjoying themselves without you. Bill says “chilled dips are popular because they’re easy to make and let you be a part of your party. Anything you can prepare ahead of time works well.”
Avoid at all costs
One of the biggest pitfalls is underestimating the number of guests. “When it’s a large group this might not be as big of a problem, but when you’re dealing with a smaller group an accurate head count t is essential,” says Farina.
“As a caterer, any change in the timeline can throw everything off. I come with everything three quarters of the way cooked. Delaying serving just throws everything off and the food doesn’t show as well or taste as good as it should.”
The most important thing to remember about any party is that it’s yours. Don’t let all that hard word and careful preparation benefit just your guests. Enjoy yourself!
“Company’s Coming” 321-480-5565