Most of us only dream of having a kitchen as big as Chef Jackie Lau’s and laid out in the same way. However, even for this amazing and accomplished former corporate chef for Roy Yamaguchi, there are times when managing and enjoying her own party takes a plan. In the recent educational and fun demo hosted at her home in June, Jackie shared how she plans for exactly this. Here are some of her tips:

  • Have a game plan for the party and write it down. Doesn’t matter if the party is big or small.
  • Make the menu first! Stick to the basics, don’t try some new recipe out on your guests for a party. Attack what you can handle and won’t have to stress out about. Try to plan for items you can make ahead of time, maybe even a few days before. If you work full time, buy items where possible, such as salsa. Think of menu items which guests can assemble themselves and are easy to keep warm or hot, such as a taco bar.
  • Get some help for the party. Recruit kids from the neighborhood to help with the dishes and clean up.
  • Make certain there is enough food for everyone. Nothing is more stressful than thinking you have to go out and buy more.
  • Make lists of what you need to buy and categorize them: produce, dairy, etc.
  • Make a list of what is in each dish so once you get ready to assemble it, you can look at the list or diagram and don’t have to rely on memory under pressure. Brilliant! Jackie has a list for each day leading up to party day so she plans for what she can realistically get done. That way she doesn’t get to Party Day and realize she didn’t plan the last 3 or 4 days properly.
  • Have a special cocktail, and maybe the same one in a non-alcoholic version. Set up everything the night before and away from the kitchen area at least a bit. Have glasses and an ice cooler ready. Add ice last minute, but chill down your wine, etc. the night before too so you don’t even have to think about it. Have corkscrew and ice scooper ready and set also.
  • Have a plan for your pets as well. Can you put them outside? In a bedroom with a note (“Pets inside; keep door closed!”) on it?

Bottom line: Think ahead and plan ahead. And please enjoy your own party!