Planning an Elegant Fine Dining Dinner
Super Easy Tips, Party Menu Planning Ideas, Plating Like A Pro,
If you have ever dined at a 5 Star restaurant or invited to an elegant gourmet dinner party with several courses,
an Amuse Bouche will usually be served. Alternate courses of your menus serving a heavy then a light course, e.g.
cream soup (heavy), followed by a green salad (light), then a pasta course (heavy), etc. This gives
the palate a chance to rest.
What To Serve, How To Serve, Helpful Hosting Tips,
Determine how many courses
you want to serve, will it be 3 or 5 or 6, 7 or 8. Check out my dinner party
menus and planning ideas
for tips and suggestions. I have done many gourmet dinner parties involving
of multiple Courses to prepare for a single dinner party menu.
I have always been a big fan of keeping things simple and easy to follow especially when I have a busy day ahead.
I never will forget my first big dinner party.
I had no idea where to start or how important planning ahead for a dinner party would be, I just waded in and did it.
Unfortunately I waited until the day of the big event to put most everything
together. By 2 pm that same day I was exhausted and had no energy left to
enjoy my guests or the wonderful food I had prepared.
I learned the hard way.
Planning ahead for a successful dinner party and all that needs to be done for dinner party
menus with many recipes is the way to go...
in fact, now I can truthfully say by getting myself organized it's
become so very easy for me, what a difference a little planning ahead can
Planning - What Food Course Do I Serve First for my dinner party?
Should it be a
course, cheese course?
1) Once guests are seated, an
(a French term
pronounced "uh-MYUZ-boosh"), if used, should always be served first, followed by an appetizer course.
What is an Amuse Bouche? (click on my amuse bouche webpage for
recipes and photos). It is a little flavorful bite of most any type of food to amuse your palate,
the idea is to make your guests want more. If you have ever dined at a 5 Star restaurant or invited to an elegant gourmet dinner party with several courses,
an amuse bouche will usually be served.
2) Alternate courses of your menus serving a heavy then a light course, e.g. cream soup (heavy),
followed by a green salad (light), then a pasta course (heavy), etc, this gives
the palate a chance to rest. Make sure to only serve approximately 1/2 cup
per serving of each course so that your guests will have room for more courses
3) Always serve a citrus sorbet before the main entree as a palate
cleanser, this should only be 1 to 3 melonballs per person. Do not serve
sweet sorbet in the middle of an elegant dinner party, save this for a
4) Once you determine the order of your menu, write it down; refer to it
in the kitchen so you will know what course to serve next.
My Unique tips - How To Serve Guests -
Tricks to Plating like a Pro
DO NOT PASS THE DISH.
Plate up, that is (arrange each food item on the
plate in the kitchen before serving) RESTAURANT
This allows you to be creative decorating the plated food you have so carefully
planned, it delights your guests to see their food arranged and presented
to them so
2) Determine ahead any additional plates, etc. will be needed. Use the "layering"
(stacking) system for each course if possible; use several plates of different colors and shapes to present a course.
Put a note on each stack of dishes in the kitchen so you will know what course goes on what plates.
3) Make a list of all the foods to be on each plate. Many times I have
omitted some foods, now I make a list. Do not forget the garnish!
4) Serve no more than one-half cup servings per person for
soup, salad or pasta courses. If portions are too large your guests will not have room for the beautiful
dessert you have prepared.
5) When plating up, keep the rim of the plate clear of all
food and garnishes
as 5 Star restaurants do. Think of the plate as a painting; an artist
never paints the frame. Wipe smudges or spills with a damp cloth
6) Do not keep your guests waiting too long between courses. By planning your
menu well, you will not have this problem.
7) Announce to your guests
as you serve each course what the
entree is, name a few of the
key ingredients; tell them a little about the
wine you have chosen to accompany this course.
This adds to the elegance of your dinner party; and they will appreciate the information.
8) Serve women first, from the eldest to the youngest,
then serve the men, eldest to the
9) Serve food from the left; pick up empty plates from the right. Leave charger plates
on the table if possible.
10) Ask a helper to pour the wine while you are serving the different
courses on your menus.
1) Extend invitations one month in advance; include what, when and where.
2) Request an RSVP with a specific reply date.
3) Give directions, if needed.
4) Inquire of your guests if there are any food allergies and food preferences i.e. likes and
What Shall They Bring
If you want your guests to bring something, include that in your invitation such as wine for a certain
course or if you want them to bring a certain course. Be specific.
If you want a dress code, specify this
in the invitation. When you spend time planning and preparing gourmet dinner party menus, you do not want someone wearing
jeans or shorts unless otherwise specified. With everyone dressed for the occasion, it sets the mood even more for an elegant
party especially when the lights are dimmed and only candles set the stage
with soft music in the background.
Cocktail dresses or long gowns
Dinner jackets and dark suits
A nice dress or pants outfit for women
Jacket, shirt and tie (optional) for men
Sporty outfit for women or casual dresses
Sport shirts, sweaters, slacks,
Dockers for men
1) Planning your entire dinner menus with several courses.
- ideas)with photographs.
2) Make sure planning menus are compatible with each course, keeping in mind
different textures, food compatibility and colors, i.e. try not to serve beets
and tomatoes, as an example, on the same plate the colors are not
3) Choose recipes you have already tried and tested, do not serve something that will not be a
hit, planning ahead is a great idea.
4) If your menus require using an oven, choose recipes with similar temperatures making it easier and quicker if having to
bake several things between
courses; don't keep your guests waiting too long for the next entree.
5) Make a list of all the grocery items you need to purchase for your
6) Make a detailed list for yourself of all food preparations that need to be done,
(e.g. chop 1/4 cup celery finely; defrost 1 cup shrimp; pick 8 sprigs parsley
from garden;), no matter how small you may think it is, write it down! It always gives me great pleasure to "cross out" an item on my to-do list.
Plan ahead and be well organized; do as much ahead
as possible. Do not leave many things to be done the day of the dinner party, you will be too
exhausted; very important
Label every ingredient you have prepared ahead and what it will be
used for, (e.g. 2 tablespoons chives for soup), so that you can grab it and use it
immediately when you need it.
7) Planning a garnish
(see all my easy ideas with photographs) for each course; this adds elegance to a dinner and makes a beautiful presentation, they
can be made ahead.
8) Determine the wine to accompany each course planning ahead for how much you will need. If you are not sure, ask a
wine steward or sommelier. I like to ask my guests to bring wine or even
their favorite beverage (not everyone likes wine), this
makes it very easy for me and my guests are usually happy to bring something, it's a
Setting The Table
1) Use your best China, glass stemware, tableware, table linens and napkins,
no paper please! This sets the mood for an elegant evening as your guests file
by your beautifully arranged table setting before your dinner begins. Many
a time when I was invited to a special dinner party, I viewed the table setting
before the dinner began and was very impressed with what I saw.
2) Use charger plates if you have them. I like to use them but if I have a
large number of guests, I do not have room for them on my dining table.
Use your own judgment.
3) Choose a centerpiece low enough everyone can see over so that it does not
interfere with conversation.
4) Consider using candles as the main light. This sets the mood for an elegant dining
experience. I put my candles in the freezer then set them in my holders and
light them just before everyone is seated.
5) For something different, type menus in the format of
fine dining menus
listing all the courses,
them into French or Spanish, or Italian, or whatever theme your dinner might be.
Print them out small enough to put them by each place setting. While you are preparing the
food in the kitchen, it is fun to hear guests trying to determine the menus i.e. what will be served next. Sometimes
there will be a
language expert among the guests that can figure out the foreign language (it
always makes them feel good).
6) You may want to make take-home favors.
1) Seat yourself and your helper (if you use one) closest to the kitchen.
2) Use random seating or specify seating by placards.
3) Consider placing shy people next to talkative people to keep the conversation going so that everyone will have a good time.
Set The Mood
1) Choose soft mellow background music not to interfere with conversations.
2) Do not forget to light the candles, (put them in the freezer before setting
them on the table, they last longer), make sure they are un-scented candles,
that would ruin your beautifully planned dinner party!
Have fun and Bon Appetit!