Mas tthee r Art


Victorian Homes - - Master the Art - By Carly Evans Pho­tog­ra­phy by Me­lanie acevedo & david En­gel­hardt

En­ter­tain­ing can of­ten be a stress­ful Event, but it doesn’t need to be. In The Art of En­ter­tain­ing, Jessica Ker­win Jenk­ins ex­plores the process used by suc­cess­ful ho­tels when host­ing fes­tive events for their guests. Al­though your fam­ily Thanks­giv­ing or Christ­mas feast may not be for hun­dreds of peo­ple, you can im­ple­ment these im­por­tant fac­tors to make your event just as ex­cit­ing and mem­o­rable.


Whether you’re host­ing your small fam­ily for a sim­ple Sun­day meal or your en­tire ex­tended fam­ily for the hol­i­days, bring an air of au­then­tic­ity to the meal to make an evening to re­mem­ber. Are you plan­ning on cook­ing a large turkey with tra­di­tional stuff­ing, mashed pota­toes and peas? Do some re­search and get to know the his­tory about the dish you want to serve. Some­thing as sim­ple and time­less as a turkey din­ner may have a his­tory you don’t know. Learn­ing about the food you choose to serve and how to serve it cre­ates a din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence your guests won’t for­get.

At a Great Gatsby themed din­ner party, the pas­try chef “con­sulted pe­riod cook­books, re­search­ing what was served on ocean lin­ers of the Gilded Age, in­clud­ing the Ti­tanic,” Jenk­ins writes. In this case, the chef looked to the roar­ing ‘20s and re­searched the ex­act kind of desserts and treats that chefs at the time would have served. Tak­ing the time to look into pe­riod-ac­cu­rate dishes and desserts for the Vic­to­rian era and im­ple­ment­ing them into your din­ner will vastly en­hance your guests’ ex­pe­ri­ence.

You can do the same for flat­ware and cut­lery as well. Ta­ble set­tings and sil­ver­ware are great pe­riod pieces that sig­nal what kind of din­ner event you are host­ing. Even if you're un­sure of what styles and de­signs to use, “noth­ing is as time­less as sil­ver and gold,” Jenk­ins writes.


Re­gard­less of what kind of food event you are host­ing, you can look to the en­vi­ron­ment for in­spi­ra­tion. Whether that means dec­o­rat­ing ac­cord­ing to the sea­son with col­or­ful leaves, or look­ing through your gar­den for or­ganic in­gre­di­ents, your own set­ting has so much to of­fer. The chef of an inn in Que­bec loves to use “un­usual in­gre­di­ents spe­cific to the place—from beach rose hips to sea buck­thorn,” Jenk­ins writes. Learn more about your own en­vi­ron­ment to open the doors of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion with tra­di­tional dishes and cre­ate an au­then­tic ex­pe­ri­ence of your own. Even the dish­ware you choose has an ef­fect on your guests. At one beach­side re­sort in Mex­ico, the meals are “served in tra­di­tional Mex­i­can clay pot­tery, or ol­las de barro, hand-painted, glazed earth­en­ware cook­ing pots that, ac­cord­ing to tra­di­tion­al­ists, im­part an

in­com­pa­ra­ble fla­vor to each dish,” Jenk­ins writes. This sense of cul­tural aware­ness al­lows the guests to revel in the new foods they are try­ing. Ex­plore the Vic­to­rian food cul­ture through your event to cel­e­brate an­other his­tor­i­cal as­pect of the time pe­riod.


A truly gen­er­ous way to make a mem­o­rable event is to cre­ate an evening full of con­ver­sa­tion. No one en­joys a night out with peo­ple and awk­ward si­lences. Look for ways to al­low for easy com­mu­ni­ca­tion. A beau­ti­ful Mas­sachusetts inn ar­ranges the seat­ing in the gar­den “in cozy room-like set­tings that en­cour­age con­ver­sa­tion,” Jenk­ins writes. One large ta­ble may sound best for a large meal, but smaller ta­bles may ac­tu­ally be more con­ducive of bet­ter con­nec­tions be­tween guests. Mu­sic is an el­e­gant op­tion for din­ner par­ties too, but don’t overdo it. Back­ground mu­sic en­hances a ro­man­tic scene, while loud mu­sic may send your guests home early. Desserts and ac­tiv­i­ties will keep the event go­ing too, even af­ter the meal is over. “Nat­u­rally, din­ner was just the pre­lude to a long evening to come,” Jenk­ins writes.

Learn­ing about the food you choose to serve and how to serve it cre­ates a din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence your guests won’t for­get.

Fire pits and lounge chairs can keep guests around for lux­u­ri­ous ca­ma­raderie well into the evening. “Some­thing as sim­ple as trans­port­ing an at­trac­tive in­door din­ing ta­ble out­doors makes a big im­pact, con­jur­ing a lit­tle magic, of­fer­ing guests a fresh per­spec­tive, and buoy­ing the evening,” Jenk­ins writes. Rein­vent your back­yard or din­ing room to show­case a new style. Guests will love see­ing a new set­ting in your home and will stay longer to en­joy the re­freshed am­biance. Your guests can al­ways en­joy a lin­ger­ing fin­ish to your event as well. “In Vic­to­rian times the men re­tired af­ter the meal with port and the ladies with sherry,” Jenk­ins quotes. The Homestead Inn in New Mil­ford, Con­necti­cut of­fers cigars and drinks af­ter meals, al­low­ing con­ver­sa­tions to con­tinue and friends to fur­ther con­nect. Of­fer drinks and cigars at the end of the night, or s’mores and hot choco­late.

Col­or­ful pas­tries and cakes dec­o­rate this dessert ta­ble at a Great Gats­byin­spired din­ner party. Mac­arons, madeleines, bon­bons and éclairs all came from the chef re­search­ing cook­books from that time.

The Art of En­ter­tain­ing by Re­lais & Châteaux North Amer­ica and Jessica Ker­win Jenk­ins, pub­lished by Riz­zoli In­ter­na­tional Pub­li­ca­tions, Inc., © 2016; riz­

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