PARTY TIPS FROM NEVEN MAGUIRE

Neven Maguire is Ireland’s hottest TV chef and host of a Public Television show in America, “Home Chef,” which debuts in January 2014.

From the rural village of Blacklion in County Cavan, Neven is famous for having turned a local restaurant into a national phenomenon. MacNean House and Restaurant has become one of the most talked about and frequented restaurants in Ireland. So popular is the establishment that table reservations are booked six months in advance.

Neven shares with us his top party tips.

  1. Master one great dish that will be the star of your party and practice well before your event. Party day is not the time to experiment.
  2. Think through the work involved to make each dish and set up a schedule for yourself to prep a little each day until the party day. Try to do as much as you can ahead of time. You’ll feel organized and less stressed.
  3. You don’t have to make everything yourself. If you don’t have time, supplement your menu with high-quality purchased items that can be re-plated on your best serving dishes, garnished and refreshed with a sprinkling of chopped herbs.
  4. Don’t forget to set the stage. Select your favorite holiday music, and plan to decorate with lights and masses of flickering candles to get your guests into the party mood the minute they step in the door.
  5. A cheese board is the perfect addition to any holiday buffet. It’s quick and easy to prepare and cheese is filling so your guests won’t go away hungry – this is especially important at a cocktail party. Try a selection of Irish cheeses such as Kerrygold Dubliner and Cashel Blue and serve with fruits, nuts, chutney and hearty breads, Irish style.
  6. Consider cheaper cuts of meat when entertaining. Just cook low and slow to tenderize and allow the flavors to intensify. Added bonus: Many slow-cooked foods taste better the next day so you can prepare ahead and reheat.
  7. Make some flavored butters in advance for instant seasoning. For example, Kerrygold Salted Butter with chopped fresh herbs and finely minced garlic can be melted over vegetables, brushed on crostini or used as a topping for baked potatoes.
  8. Food will always taste better when presented with style. Think about what platters you want to use for each dish once you’ve decided on your menu so you won’t have to scramble to buy, borrow or rummage through your back closet. Look for harmony of color, texture and shape between the dish and the food.
  9. Plan for after-party leftovers by stocking up on plastic containers or zipper-top plastic bags. Leftover sauces can be frozen in ice cube trays.
  10. Clean up after the party, no matter how tired, so you don’t have to face a mess when you wake up the next day.