Utah Style and Design

Al Fresco Entertaining

May 3, 2014

Petite Feast’s Victoria Topham discusses the summer fare she stylishly creates at home an for her in-home clients alike.

By Brad Mee, Photos by Adam Finkle

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“I like to start at the market and develop a menu from there,” says Petite Feast’sVictoria Topham discussing the summer fare she stylishly creates at home and for her in-home clients alike. With similar flair, Topham catered a delicious summer meal in Ward & Child’s garden and provided expert tips and recipes for cooking and entertaining outdoors.

During summer, I like grilling and incorporating bold, assertive flavors including cilantro, jalapeño, and citrus that suit the season. Involve guests who have fun helping to grill hors d’oeuvres like skewered meats, pizzas or flatbreads.

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Serve courses when dining in a garden. Serve each one in a different part of the yard and allow time for guests to mingle between them. This is especially smart with large parties, so guests aren’t restricted to visiting with only those sitting by them at a single sitting.

For groups of 15 or more, I suggest a buffet or family-style dining. For a single host, it’s too difficult to plate that many meals well. It’s also more casual, making it ideal for summer entertaining.

Prepare as much as possible beforehand so you can enjoy time with your guests. Consider incorporating take-out food to supplement your menu, or prepare the entree and hire a caterer or chef to do the rest. Don’t be so ambitious that you miss the party.

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Have a loose schedule and don’t rush the evening. Setting up lawn games like corn-toss that can be enjoyed during cocktails and hors d’oeuvres can help establish the laid back agenda.

Depending on the event, I’ll incorporate paper and plastic in my tableware. However, I always use linen table napkins, real cutlery and glassware, and paper cocktail napkins.

It’s not what’s on the table, but who’s around the table that really counts.

Click here for more “Al Fresco” recipes.

Ashley Miller

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