Present like a Pro

Yes, I know that in past columns I’ve said that we home cooks aren’t chefs and are not expected to be. Still, it’s nice to pick up home-entertaining ideas from the pros, since sometimes their tricks can so easily elevate our efforts. As it happens, I picked up several seemingly simple but stunning ideas at the housewarming party of some stylish new neighbors last weekend.

The cocktail menu by caterer Kate Baldwin (www.katebaldwinfood.com) of Richmond, MA, was enhanced by the alluring use of fruits and vegetables in the platter presentation. Among the dishes, two-bite vegetarian summer rolls were resting on a basket-weave of cucumber slices. Surprisingly flavorful silver-dollar sized smoked turkey sandwiches on tiny rolls, slathered with chutney and garnished with microgreens, were set off on brilliant burgundy-and-white striped raw Chioggia beet rounds. A bright orange papaya half not only lent color to a platter of lamb meatballs but became the clever receptacle for their wooden skewers.

The food was so good and the service so attentive that I’d hire Kate in a minute, if I were hosting a crowd. But next time I’m throwing a small dinner party, I might just try those presentation ideas myself.

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