Designing a Multi Course Dinner Party Menu

Woman chopping vegetables

Lauren Antoinette

When deciding to host a dinner party; menu is everything. Food is a form of pleasure as well as a source of life. Guests need to feel they have experienced something and leave satisfied. A dinner party menu should be designed to simulate taste buds and evoke emotion.

A proper dinner party features a number of courses. In true formality, there are a total of nine courses but most prefer to go with a five course condensed arrangement. Nine courses can become tedious and overwhelming not only for the host but for the guests. Our Suggestions for a five course plan:

First Course: Appetizer
Second Course: Soup/Salad
Third Course: Fish Course
Fourth Course: Main Entree
Fifth Course: Dessert

First, remember a menu should go from sour to sweet and light to heavy. Make sure that the sweetness gently increases throughout the meal as well as the portion much like a crescendo with the main entrée being the climax and desert as the finale. This allows the stomach and pallet to prepare and enjoy the taste presentation.

Next, consider flavors and dishes that will please guests. Attendees may have certain diet needs or restrictions, for example, avoid serving pork at most functions because it is often a few in a group that don’t eat pork and it is an item that can be easily substituted with not much trouble. Consider some new flavors that might excite their pallet; such as fresh herbs, infused oils or different peppers and let us not forget the wine. Wine can compliment a meal in the way a great smile makes a person attractive and memorable. Take time when selecting the wine; go as far as attending a few tastings to select the ones that fit just right. Try to provide guests with at least 2 to 3 choices of wine during the meal.

Recommendations: Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with poultry and red meat or Pinot Grigio if your menu is layered with a number of seafood elements.

Selection of food that is good for the heart, rustic wood background

Lastly, give special attention to the quality of your ingredients. Keep in mind that you want fresh ingredients for all your dishes. Avoid frozen and canned items. Laziness in the kitchen is a quick way to take your menu from being phenomenal to just average. Some examples or things to keep in mind:

Prepping Garlic: This can be a little tedious and make most people reach for the already crushed garlic in the jar. This is a mistake and it often changes the flavor of the dish, making it saltier than needed. When it comes to salt, you want to make sure to maintain a balance. Peel your garlic the day before your event and seal in an airtight container until you are ready to use.

Salads: When choosing to do salads, make sure to pick a leafy green that packs favor and a nutritional value. Avoid iceberg lettuce and lean more toward Romaine or spring mix. Think of combinations that make your salad better than the average salad experience.

Inside tip; add a little fresh oregano and thin strips of basil to give your salad a refined flavor.

Meat Quality: When cooking for others, serve the best quality meats. Go for the ground sirloin, the well marbled steaks and healthiest appeal. Avoid dull colors and low quality cuts.

The offering of food has always been a way to honor someone and this is the feeling you want to give your guests. The menu arrangement can act as a conversation starter and create a bonding among guests. While theme, décor and activity also play a big role in making your dinner party a success, it is the menu that will leave the biggest impression.

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