Chef Corbin Tomaszeski, who hosts the Food Network’s Dinner Party Wars with Anthea Turner, knows all too well how embarrassing and ruinous a failed soire can be. He sees plenty of disasters on the show, which pits three couples against each other for the ultimate dinner party face-off. The 38-year-old, who grew up surrounded by food on a farm southwest of Edmonton, is the executive chef for Holt Renfrew in Toronto. In preparation for the holiday season, Tomaszeski shares his tips on the fine art of entertaining and being a good guest.
“First and foremost, decide whom you’re inviting. Your guest list will dictate if the party is formal or casual and what you’ll serve for dinner. If you have guests that you know aren’t going to appreciate a fish dish, then don’t do it. Take care of your guests’ needs.”
“It’s all about providing a certain level of comfort for your guests. I see too many hosts that don’t take the time to make sure their house is in order. They focus too much on the food and forget to clean the bathroom, lock up the dog and decide where to store their guest’s jackets.”
“The biggest mistake people make is cooking food they’ve never done before. Don’t experiment – save that for you in-laws. It’s like me going into an operating room and the doctor saying, ‘OK, take out this guy’s pancreas.’ I could try but I would probably kill the guy.”
“If there’s a product or ingredient you’re not sure about, take advantage of your resident experts, like butchers, grocers and florists. Go to your local liguor store and say, ‘Hey, this is what I’m serving. What wine do you suggest?’ It’s a free resource that will make you look amazing.”
“Don’t bring flowers or wine because they might make extra work for your host. Flowers might clash with the party’s atmosphere and wine is lazy. Instead, try giving them a nice bottle of olive oil, or personalize the gift by giving them a coffee table book about something they enjoy.”
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