With the 4th of July only days away, many of us will be entertaining friends and family! Chef and entertaining expert Ceci Carmichael joined me recently to discuss simple tips for ensuring not only your guests are entertained and happy, but that you're relaxed and actually get to enjoy your party, and much more!
Candace Rose: What's your number one tip for throwing a great summer party?
Ceci Carmichael: "I tell people to get as much done ahead of time, and also I think people have a tendency to want to pull out their most elaborate complicated recipe and do it on the day of the party it is such a huge mistake because for one, you don't know how it's going to turn out; two, you're not going to be concentrating, you're going to have your nose in your cookbook and you won't be able to have fun with your friends. I made a green lasagna once for a party- it was the ugliest worst thing and I was obsessed with making it, and I will never do that again. I'm a chef and this is all stuff that's supposed to be easy for me, but I still only go with things I know."
Candace Rose: I don't blame you! Is there anything else we need to know before getting started?
Ceci Carmichael: "It's simple things like get organized, take all the dishes and clear your dishwasher so it's empty and you're starting with a clean slate and you don't have a pile of dishes on your sink and everywhere. You want to be able to get everything in and out of there as fast as possible. A lot of people waste a lot of time pre-washing their dishes before they put it in the dishwasher, and LG has come up with a dishwasher that has something called TrueSteam technology, it actually virtually eliminates the need to pre-wash your dishes because it steams off all those little bits that you usually would be scrubbing. And another great thing for everyday use, but especially for parties the easy rack plus system has a height adjustable third rack, you lower it down and you can get all those things in. Those are things you're usually trying to cram in there and you end up hand washing. You have a dishwasher, make it work for you, right? Also, it's a designated energy star appliance so it's easy on the environment, easy on your electric bill- it's a great thing."
Candace Rose: Most summer parties involve barbecuing. Is there anything we can do to take our grilling skills to the next level, especially us beginners?
Ceci Carmichael: "You can now take your grill skills and learn grill skills on the high sea! Celebrity Cruise line is now offering the industry's first outdoor interactive grill restaurant where you can have a handle on demonstrations on grilling techniques and marinades- it's really wonderful.
Celebrity is also offering these culinary immersive cruises that are setting sail with some of the best wine regions in Europe. So what they do is they help you pair all these wonderful wines you'll be tasting with the recipes you'll be learning to cook. I think this is a really fun opportunity for people who really want to get involved in cooking and also have a spa available. In the summer and in the fall they're going to be setting sail for Europe for as little as $899 per person which is a really price. So if you go to CelebrityCruises.com you can book your cruise right away."
Candace Rose: Now what if you're entertaining out on the patio or in the backyard?
Ceci Carmichael: "People want it to look nice so they end up bringing out their glasses and their china – don't do that. It's just going to end up in heartache and pain, and you're going to be breaking things. I say go with shatter-resistant plastic wine glasses and platters. It looks like a regular wine glass but if you drop this it's not going to break apart on you. Everything comes in all these great colors and patterns so you can change things up from party to party very inexpensively. And also the great thing about plastic is it's a completely sustainable product- it's reuseable, it's recyclable and half the time you're using something that's living its second life as something else because it's been used as recycled plastics as well. I encourage everybody out there to recycle and put a little bin out at your party, and get people in the habit of putting their plastic in it and recycling it and letting it be born again as something else."
Candace Rose: You always say to spring for the good stuff where it matters?
Ceci Carmichael: "I think that it doesn't have to be expensive, but things like super fresh produce. We're coming into summer now and I think people should go ahead and go to the farm stand and get that beautiful corn, and then you can pair it with inexpensive things. I've got these hot dogs here- I love to do this at my parties- you have build-your-own hot dog stations. You have your mustard, you have your ketchup, but also do things sort of out of the box a little bit- fresh corn relish there, caramelized onions, fresh salsa made with fresh farm stand tomatoes and try different kinds of cheese that people might be interested in so sort of take it to the next level. It doesn't have to be expensive, but using your freshest ingredients. When you use fresh, there's not a lot that you have to do by way of preparation because that flavor sort of speaks for itself."
Candace Rose: Where can viewers go for more information?
Ceci Carmichael: "Go to News2Know.com and you can get all of the product information and cruise information, and have a great breezy, fabulous summer."
Candace Rose: Where can viewers go for more information on you, Ceci?
Ceci Carmichael: "SwellFood.com is my website, but News2Know.com has all the great stuff that you've seen today."