Chef Michael Smith Shares his Entertaining Tips
We know that chef Michael Smith is famous for bringing us into his home, sharing his tips regarding food and entertaining. Thanks to Cascade, Smith was able to stop by Toronto recently and share some of his advice with me. Not only does Smith cook – he cleans! He says, “I do the shopping, I do the cooking, I do the cleaning, I pack lunches and I make breakfasts every morning,” adding, “I am the guy that does the clean-up so I appreciate that I don’t have to pre-rinse – it saves me time.”
So when it comes to entertaining, what’s most important to the ultimate entertainer? “At the end of the day, what really matters most is that we take the time to come together and share. And if that happens, you’re successful,” says Smith. He’s got a few tips – and recipes! – to help your next dinner party run smoothly, too.
Spend time to save time We all know prep is important, and Smith can’t stress it enough. Do as much as you can in advance, including setting the table, chopping and cooking as much as you can.
Make your guests feel special Be thoughtful! Whether your specialty is decor, music or ambiance, once your guests see that you put in an effort, they’ll be flattered and impressed.
Start with a bang! “When we have a party, there needs to feel like there is a start to it. There comes a time where it’s time to say to our guests, ‘We’re in, let’s go, we’re starting!’ and more often than not that tends to be a toast, a glass of champagne or maybe a cocktail. When you think about it that way, you have to have a deliberate mindset.”
Do something together Have a skill or something fun or crafty you can share with your guests? Smith stresses that doing something as a group will bring everyone together and add a highlight to your party.
Get help Don’t be afraid to ask your guests to help you clean. “I think as Canadians, everybody volunteers. So be ready for it. Ask for it. Delegate.” Smith suggests even holding dessert until guests have helped tidy a bit.
And a little extra tip for those entertaining outside. When you think of grilling – think fruit! Like pineapple, for instance. Smith shares his Grilled Pineapple Salad recipe below!
Grilled Pineapple and Red Onion Salad
© Chef Michael Smith
This is my all-time favourite summer salad. It’s amazing how much savoury flavour your grill can add to a simple pineapple and some red onion. Next time you fire up the works try this salad and you’ll have a new favourite for your repertoire too!
1 whole pineapple, skinned (uncored), cut into thick rings
2 red onions, sliced into a few very thick rings
a few generous splashes olive oil
a sprinkle or two sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lemon, zest and juice
a few handfuls fresh whole basil leaves
Preheat your barbecue or grill.
Evenly brush or drizzle the pineapple and onion rings with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Try to keep the onion rings intact as you do.
Grill the pineapple until golden grill marks appear and the fruit softens, about 5 minutes per side. Meanwhile, grill the onion until soft and lightly charred.
Quarter the grilled pineapple slices into wedges and roughly chop the onion rings. Toss everything with the lemon zest and juice and as many whole basil leaves as you can get your hands on.
This salad is very good tossed with a grilled chicken breast or two. Try tossing in some shredded coconut or sliced green onions as well.