Last winter I hosted a party and spent almost the entire time in the kitchen. I remember a few of my guests coming in to chat with me while I cooked, baked and made drinks but it was a whirlwind. And while my focus should have been on socializing with the people I invited into my home, it was elsewhere. I was playing chef and bartender, and there was no time for chitchat. After that I resolved to be present at my next party in a way that didn’t require me to hold a cocktail shaker in one hand and a spatula in another. Fast-forward to summer and I decided to take another stab at hosting a casual seasonal soirée, with my resolution firmly in mind. I relinquished all control and let Paramount Events take care of the setup, food and cocktails. The result was unimaginable.
The Set Up
A member of the Paramount Events team arrived promptly at my door and he meant business. He had a two-story cart stacked sky high with food, drinks and beautiful white serving bowls and plates. I asked if he needed any help and he politely declined and began unpacking. He finished setting up in less than 30 minutes and the result was fantastic. I had a fully equipped bar cart, a ton of food and dishes that fit everything properly. After consulting me about what time to come back, he left. I knew the party fare would be the star of the show so I opted for light décor and kept things simple with a few flower arrangements. The coveted table space was meant for the food.
Paramount completely eliminated the need for wine, beer or mixers and brought over a luxurious specialty cocktail dubbed the Porch Swing. Made with Limoncello, gin, honey, lemon simple syrup and fresh grapefruit, it was a classic summer concoction. The edible flowers added an extra special touch when used to garnish the already bright libation. Guests also sipped on fresh brewed ice tea with precut lemon wedges and an assortment of sweeteners.
After my last bash Paramount made me realize it was much easier to encourage grazing. Guests are happier, I’m not tied down to producing multiple courses and I can refill dishes as needed. Each space in my home had a theme. My coffee table was transformed into a snack table, complete with three types of delightfully addicting popcorn (parmesan, cheddar, and Cajun), pretzels, salty and sweet trail mix and an enormous charcuterie platter stacked with decadent local and imported cheeses, specialty meats, dried and fresh fruits, buttery crackers, a toothsome sliced baguette and assorted nuts.
My dining room table housed an abundance of main courses. Three types of sandwiches were served. The tomato and fresh mozzarella was a savory vegetarian option on a fresh Italian ciabatta bun with aromatic sweet basil and a tart balsamic drizzle. It’s meat-heavy counterpart, the Italian sandwich, was comprised of spicy soppressata, Tuscan finocchiona, salty cured ham, provolone cheese and tangy homemade giardiniera, sandwiched between the same soft pillows of ciabatta bread. With a light avocado spread served on a brioche bun, the roasted turkey and farmhouse cheddar sandwich was simple, delicious and a favorite amongst my guests.
With expertly prepared salads any sandwich-loathing visitors had two satisfying options to choose from. It was immediately clear an experienced hand made the pasta salad. Tossed in a bold pistachio pesto with plump cherry tomatoes and beautiful pearls of fresh mozzarella, it was consumed quickly. The field greens salad was bountiful. The assorted greens were intertwined with sliced carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and radishes, all tossed in sweet sherry vinaigrette.
The fresh baked menagerie of carefully crafted oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, peanut butter and sugar cookies were hidden in the kitchen until the appropriate time and then devoured. As guests slowly made their way out the door (in a slight stupor from their food coma) I handed them their final parting gift — an individually wrapped homemade granola bar.
The Clean Up
I wrapped up the leftovers, popped them in the fridge and Paramount came and collected the dishes. No muss, no fuss and very little clean up for me.
1750 West Lake Street, Chicago, IL 60612
Featured Photo Credit: Paramount Events