A freshly cooked Cornish Pasty sits on a table at Cornish Premier Pasties Ltd. in this arranged photograph in St Columb, Cornwall, U.K.(Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg)

The Do’s and Don’ts of Throwing the Best Dinner Party Ever

(Bloomberg) -- If you’re looking for dinner party advice, the last person you’d think to ask would be a teenager. Unless it’s Flynn McGarry: The celebrated 19-year-old chef started his first dining club at 12, cooking French Laundry-inspired dishes out of his tricked-out bedroom at home. His new restaurant, Gem, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, features a family-style vibe, and each meal is served to no more than 18 guests. Here he offers his well-honed advice for summer entertaining.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Throwing the Best Dinner Party Ever

Do a Practice Run

“Rule No. 1: Never make a dish cold for a party. You need to have tried that recipe at least once before you put it out there for others.”

Pick a Motif

“I like to theme a dinner around a dish, like paella or fondue. It’s easier to plot the rest of the meal from there. And when people ask the inevitable ‘What should I bring?’ you can steer them toward a matching bottle of wine or booze. (Think: German riesling with schnitzel.) But mix it up: You don’t want to be known for just one thing. It’s boring for guests, and it’s even more boring for you.”

The Do’s and Don’ts of Throwing the Best Dinner Party Ever

Make Up Your Own House Rules

“Let guests choose their own seats, but partners cannot sit together. Encourage people to change places at some point. I like movement.”

Let ’Em Watch

“Guests tend to gravitate toward the kitchen. Prepare for that—you should have snacks and a bar set up for guests who wander in.”

The Do’s and Don’ts of Throwing the Best Dinner Party Ever

Remember the Law of Three

“My rule of thumb is go with three dishes that are simple and tasty, rather than trying too hard on a single dish that may not work out. Have a big platter of cheeses and meats for snacks, then a big bitter green salad with fruit, walnuts, and a cheese in there. Then a meat, probably a roast, with salsa verde, because it always looks and tastes good. Add a couple of roasted vegetables on the side, maybe a bowl of pasta. And for your hungrier guests, keep a helping of good bread on the table.”

Stock, Stock, Stock Your Bar

“I can’t legally drink in the U.S., so these are just my own observations: Don’t assume people are going to bring enough wine, even if they say they are. It’s also good to have a well-stocked, or even moderately stocked, bar cart. Do not attempt wine pairings at home. Leave that to the professionals. Just pour wide-ranging bottles that will pair with the most dishes. And if you really want to impress, be prepared to serve a good coffee or tea afterward.”

The Do’s and Don’ts of Throwing the Best Dinner Party Ever

Embrace Family-Style

“Individual servings are a recipe for disaster. But don’t assume one big platter for a group will work, either. The dish will get cold and beaten up as it moves around the table. Plan a platter of food for every four guests. (Make sure you have enough platters, large plates, and serving utensils.) Put any sauces in a bowl to serve on the side, otherwise everything suffers. And always be prepared to add a guest. Dinner parties are the most fun when there’s too many people.”

Don’t Make Dessert

“It’s one more thing to do, and no one really needs it. Plus, it’s the chance for a guest to bring one and feel like the hero.”

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Rovzar at crovzar@bloomberg.net, James Gaddy

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