Alex Guarnaschelli's Top 3 Tips for Holiday Entertaining

By: Victoria Phillips

Alex Guarnaschelli puts her culinary chops on display daily at her New York City restaurants Butter and The Darby, but she also knows a thing or two about entertaining a crowd (especially during the holidays). When FN Dish caught up with her at the New York City Wine & Food Festival, she was throwing a jazz brunch in the newly renovated Butter, featuring dishes from her debut cookbook, Old-School Comfort Food. Though the event was small and intimate, her entertaining ideas work for any occasion — big or small:

Mix up the menu. You don't have to serve an entire buffet of right-out-of-the-oven hot dishes. A mix of both hot and cold bites not only keeps the menu interesting, but it also gives you more time to mingle with guests. Try putting out an assorted meat plate with some dried fruits, toasted nuts or a mix of cheeses. It's an elevated way to serve a wider variety of food without making more work for yourself. Alex recommends pancetta, culatello ham, mustela loin and capocollo Calabrese. Don't forget to set out grilled bread or pita too.

Add a touch of sweetness. "When savory seems the way to go on a weekend, I like there to be a special, homemade sweet touch," she writes in her cookbook. Her Deluxe Coffee Cake, which she served multiple platters of at the event, is a crowd-pleaser that's easy to make the night before. Who says sweet food has to be served last? Put it out at the beginning of the meal and we bet there will be nothing but crumbs left by the end.

Make your own condiments. Homemade butter and hot sauce are simple, easy touches for any soiree. "I like to make these recipes when I have some free time and use them when I don't," Alex says. She prefers a mix of guajillo, ancho and jalapeno chiles in her hot sauce, but feel free to experiment and find the taste that's right for you. Your guests will appreciate the extra effort, plus you'll have a little reminder of the day's fun each time you use them later on.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Best 5 Tools and Tips Needed for Thanksgiving Entertaining

Check out Food Network's top-five entertaining roundups below to find helpful guides for hosting the ultimate Thanksgiving.

Best 5 Thanksgiving Entertaining Ideas

As you plan your Thanksgiving feast, consider what you'll need to host the holiday at home, like seasonal decor and easy entertaining gadgets to put finishing touches on the meal.

5 Ways to Get Your Table Ready for the Holidays

Trim your table with a fall-focused spread, no matter if your plans include hosting kids or throwing an elegant celebration.

POLL: What's Your Favorite Way to Entertain for the Holidays?

From cocktail parties to cookie swaps, FN Dish wants to know your favorite way to entertain during the holidays.

Set the Scene: Easy Holiday Table Centerpieces

Check out Food Network's guide to find easy holiday centerpieces to complete your seasonal table at your holiday get-togethers this year.

Holiday Party Recipes That Will Please Even the Kid Guests

From starters to mains and a desserts too, this will be a bash the little guys love.

Mulled Wine: The Solution for Abundant and Cheap Holiday Wine

Use your holiday wine gifts to make mulled wine over the winter season. Food Network has some great ideas and recipes for mulled wine.

Food Network Stars' Thanksgiving Traditions

We caught up with Bobby, Alex, Robert and many more Food Network stars about their unique Thanksgiving traditions with family and friends.

20 Wines Under $20

An all-American holiday calls for American wine. These bottles chosen by Food Network Magazine pair well with the Thanksgiving feast — and they're all from the U.S.!

Food Network Apps

In the Kitchen

Get over 70,000 FN recipes on all your mobile devices.

Facebook Messenger

Ask our bot for recipes, meal ideas and daily food trivia.

Amazon Echo

Just say "Alexa, enable Food Network skill" to get started.