Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Bear Necessities

Have you heard about San Francisco’s supper club-turned-Michelin-star-restaurant? Lucky for us, the chef behind it all is giving us tips on how to entertain a crowd:

  1. Set expectations
  2. Turn on the booze control
  3. Work the room
  4. Stir the pot
  5. Get cozy
  6. Open up your kitchen
  7. Give ’em something to talk about
  8. Everyone loves a party favor
  9. Keep them wanting more

Photo Source: Honestlyyum.com

David Barzelay knows a thing or two about entertaining. With no formal training, this chef turned a hit supper club into a two-Michelin-starred restaurant. Dining at San Francisco hot spot Lazy Bear isn’t like eating out at most other places. In fact, it isn’t like eating out at all. A self-described “communal dining experience,” Lazy Bear is akin to attending the best dinner party you’ve ever been to.

As you gear up for the holiday season, take a page from Barzelay’s book. Between his restaurant and a new bar in the works, this chef knows how not to sweat the small stuff—and so will you if you follow his lead. Here are nine essential tips from Barzelay’s kitchen to yours.

① Set Expectations

Barzelay isn’t a fan of uncertainty. “Is it dinner, or is it just a party? Should we bring wine, or should we not bring wine? Is it OK to arrive anytime?” the chef rattles off, going over the long list of potential questions that come with a party invitation. To quell any anxiety, Barzelay overcommunicates to his guests, telling them exactly what to expect of the evening, from the duration of the dinner to the location of the bathrooms.

② Turn On the Booze Control

“From the start, it’s really important to get a drink in their hands as soon as possible,” the chef says. At Barzelay’s restaurant, guests get a cocktail from the communal punch bowl as they check in. “It’s complimentary and unexpected, but immediately gets their night going.” They can then order cocktails à la carte throughout the night. Switching gears after dinner, they have the option to choose between a California-grown tea or the special cold-brew coffee with brown sugar whipped cream. If they want to keep the party going, they can also choose a nightcap.

③ Work the Room

“We literally introduce people,” Barzelay says of the communal vibe at Lazy Bear. And to foster discussion, the staff approach disparate groups at the same time. “Whenever possible, we explain [dishes] to multiple groups at once, so they are already in the mind-set that they’re in it together.”

④ Stir the Pot

Since the meal Barzelay serves is 17 courses, he likes to switch it up, aiming for a breadth of flavors and channeling a diverse range of influences, from nostalgic American to Japanese. He also switches up portion size and presentation along the way. At the start of the night, snacks might include crudités served with his elevated take on a classic onion dip (see the recipe). It’s made with five kinds of onions—some fresh, some dehydrated and others confited—which gives the dip a robust flavor. Then, channeling the cult favorite, French onion soup, he folds in dried porcini powder for depth and earthiness. As Barzelay explains it, they’re “trying to reverse-engineer the Lipton onion soup package.”

Read full article here.

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