Dinner Party

As a culinary instructor, it’s rare that I actually get the chance to cook for a crowd. Usually it’s my students who are doing the majority of the work, or I’m doing a demo in front of a bunch of people, where I sometimes am using the ingredients I say I am, and sometimes I’m just faking it.

But all that changed last night when I had a chance to flex my culinary muscle and put together a top-notch dinner party for my uncle and a crowd of his friends. It all came out beautifully, and I actually had the presence of mind to photograph much of it as it happened.

So this post will be a little more in photo-essay form, and I tried to throw in a few “as it was happening” photos instead of a bunch of “beauty shots” of people’s food getting cold. :) Of course I wasn’t able to take all of these photos, so it was my lovely girlfriend, Susan, who helped me out throughout the night, both serving the food as I plated, and taking some of these great photos.


Tonight’s Menu. I had these on the tables for the guests, and they were courtesy of Susan who made them look so nice. The theme was mainly based on my “French Farmhouse Dinner” class, which is truly a great class…

The appetizer was french baguette slices which I toasted with fine olive oil and topped with an herbed chevre, sultanas, endive and tarragon.

The first course was a Chilled Tomato-Tarragon Soup which I topped with an herb-garlic crouton and some tarragon creme fraiche. This was a recipe I learned while at Open Kitchen, but I modified it to really make all the flavors come in layers. It was fabulous.

A personal favorite of mine: Oysters Rockefeller. I teach a class on oysters as well as a class on shellfish, and this recipe is in both classes for good reason – it’s magnificent!

The next course was Sliced Duck Breast with Grapefruit Reduction and Brussels Sprouts. The duck breasts had to be sliced, sprouts finished and sauce added, and all really quickly. It’s these kinds of dishes where the chefs earn their money.

A finished plate of the duck. I forgot to turn the meat skin-side up on the first plates that went out to show the super-crispy skin I had made, so I had to go with this plating for the rest of them. But still, it looks darn good, huh?…

The stars of the show (yes, even more than the duck breasts…) were these braised lamb shanks on white bean stew. Falling-off-the-bone tender and perfectly seasoned, these were just awesome.

Dessert was my famous Rum Raisin Bread Pudding which I topped with my homemade Eggnog Ice Cream. This photo was one I took as they just came out of the oven and were still exploding out of the ramekins.

Actually topping the puddings with the ice cream was something that had to be done fast. Bread pudding right out of the oven is super-hot of course, and I didn’t want to serve puddles of cream on top of them. I had them run out as soon as each one was topped.

Job well done and mission accomplished. It was time to take a break and enjoy the extra lamb shank I made for myself. It was not only delicious – it was gone in no time flat. Can you see the exhaustion in my eyes?..

Remember, you don’t have to just read about these classes and parties! Contact me and I’d be happy to talk with you about doing an event with you!

Chef Matt

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3 Responses to “Dinner Party”

  1. Swan says:

    What a wonderful evening! The guests were a delight–I can tell they had a ton of fun. The food was AMAZING and worthy of food magazines!

  2. Everything looks amazing! Especially the lamb shank and bread pudding. And your girlfriend got some really nice shots, too. Way to go you guys!

  3. Chef Matt says:

    Swan – Thanks so much for all your help! And I’m glad you liked the oysters. (Should have made myself one…)

    Emily – Thanks, I’m glad you like it all. I think the lamb shank looks good as well, and man it tasted good. The bread pudding was a lucky shot, as I got them right while they were at their “puffiest”. :)