Mexican dinner parties are so much fun because Mexican food is somehow automatically festive. Tortilla chips, salsa, guacamole and pico de gallo are party food, yet you can choose dishes that say “gourmet” at the same time. Above you’ll see a sample menu that includes 7 dishes plus a margarita at the start. In total, you have a great cocktail, two dishes to snack on with freshly fried tortilla chips as your guests arrive, then three appetizers, a main course and a dessert. This is a fairly elaborate meal and so delicious as the food is spread out over about 3 hours. Menus can be planned even more extensive than this, with two cocktails (margaritas and sangria), more pre-dinner snacks, another appetizer, a side dish to go with the main and two desserts. Your budget is the only limitation.
Hungarian dinner parties, to me, are perhaps a little less “festive” but offer some absolutely delicious home cooking in the European style. I’ve had many clients over the years who are Austrian, German or from other European countries and they crave the kind of home style cooking they grew up with. The particular menu above includes a soup course, two salads (one cold, one warm), two delicious appetizers, a main course, one side dish and a dessert. Again, the menu can be made smaller or can be extended with more appetizers or even two desserts. It all depends on your budget for the event.
How Does a Dinner Party in My Home Work?
A dinner party in your home starts by selecting a menu, deciding on how many people will be attending and choosing a date that works for both of us. Then I will need to give you a quote based on a number of factors. Firstly, my fee has to include my travel time and mileage to get to your home and back. My fee also has to reflect the number of people who will attend the dinner, the number of dishes and courses to be served and so on. My fee also covers my time for meal planning, purchasing the groceries, travel, prep. time, service and clean-up. Some of my clients want “full service” in the sense that they don’t want to have to do anything other than provide the kitchen. Others are willing to take on some tasks such as grocery shopping (based on an ingredient list I provide) or even clean-up, which means that you’ll see some discounts. If you are planning a formal dinner for a special occasion, you’ll probably want me to do almost everything. However if you’re gathering up a group of friends for a “ladies night out” sort of event, you might be willing to do some of the work to bring the pricing down to some extent. Everything can be customized to your needs provided you have an appropriate budget. For example, for small dinner parties with 6 or 8 people I can handle the event on my own. But for a large event with 15 or 20 people I will need to hire an assistant or two unless the client wishes to take part and help out too.
Also, some of my clients prefer for the dinner party to simply involve eating food and enjoying the evening, whereas I have other clients who wish to take part in some of the preparations in order to learn more about cooking, develop some new knife skills and so on. So an event can also be planned as some combination of both cooking class and dinner party. Sometimes I call it a “cooking party”, meaning that anyone who would like to can take part in the cooking and, of course, also enjoy the food as we go along. Anything goes, but we do need to agree on all the details so that I can estimate the number of hours the event will involve, how much planning on my part and also the total cost to you.
Generally speaking, when I run an event like this in your home, you provide your kitchen with standard equipment (fridge, stove, oven) as well as typical pots, pans, serving utensils, etc. that most homeowner’s would have. You would also provide napkins, plates, bowls, drinking glasses and drinks (wine, juices, etc.). I would shop for the food and bring everything I need to cook the meal, as well as any specialized equipment you might not have (mortar & pestle, lime press, spice grinder, wok, spider, etc.). Should a client decide that they would like me to bring all equipment and even all dinner ware, glasses, etc., that can also be arranged but of course prices will escalate rather quickly. Everything depends on your budget.
When I provide cocktails at events like this, I only provide non-alcoholic “mixes” and you provide your own liquor or wine to mix into it yourself so that a liquor permit is not required. So, for example, for a Mexican sangria I provide the strawberries, blueberries, apples, lime juice, sparkling water, etc. and you supply the red wine or white wine, as you wish. A non-alcoholic version of sangria can also be supplied for children or others who do not drink alcohol using red or white grape juice.
Another issue that needs to be discussed in advance is whether there are any food allergies or other dietary issues that might need to be addressed. That will also need to be reflected in the pricing, as providing special versions of some food items generally involves more time, effort and ingredients.
For a dinner party with a smaller number of dishes, I would arrive about 3 to 3 1/2 hours before the meal is to start. With more complex menus with a larger number of dishes (7 or more), I might need to arrive 5 or 6 hours in advance or even early morning. But 3 to 3 1/2 hours would be typical for an average menu with perhaps a total of 5 dishes. If dinner is to start around 6:30 p.m., you might invite your guests to arrive closer to 5:30. When they arrive, they can start with a cocktail or glass of wine along with some of the pre-dinner snacks if it is a Mexican menu. Then the multi-course meal can start at 6:30 and run until sometime between 8:30 and 9:30, depending on the number of courses. When the meal is over, your guests can continue to chat, have more drinks, etc., as I clean up the kitchen. Then I’ll be on my way once all pots and pans have been cleaned and put away and all dishes placed in your dishwasher.
If you wish to explore the possibilities for a private dinner party or even a “cooking party”, email me at [email protected]. I can give you a rough idea of pricing based on location, number of people and number of dishes or courses. But to give a very accurate final quotation, I need to really get into the details of specific dishes and ingredients, whether you wish to help out in any way with shopping or clean-up, whether you would like to take part in any of the prep. or cooking in order to learn cooking techniques, and so on.
So if you’re looking to put on a dinner party that your friends and family will be talking about for a long time, contact me at Passion for Food and we’ll go over the details. I am willing to provide services as a personal chef or private chef, as needed.