Chef and Electrolux ambassador, Massimo Mele, shares his tips for a relaxing and enjoyable lunch at home with friends and family.
Massimo says, “I am always happiest when I am in the kitchen and very happy to share the space with friends and family. I think being able to entertain, cook great food and be comfortable is the perfect recipe for success.”
Think about your guests first:
The way I plan the menu really depends on who is coming. When I have family coming there is always kids, and food for them needs to be taken into consideration. I try and prepare dishes beforehand usually food that is baked or can be finished in the oven. Oven roasted pork belly is usually on the menu, grilled vegetables from the garden, and a simple salad. You will always see a pasta dish on the menu as well, such as my macaroni with slow cooked ragu. I always like to start with delicious seafood such as local Angasi oysters or even scallops when they are in season.
Have some special drinks on hand:
As for drinks, we love a good spritz, Negroni is on the menu always. Sparkling wine is also a favourite. We have some very good friends who are wine makers in Hobart, they keep us stocked up.
Prepare in advance:
I absolutely think preparing in advance is so important, the more you can do ahead of time the better it is. The idea as a host is to be relaxed not stressed out. If you have too much to do and look frantic in the kitchen, your guests will know and it will affect their experience.
Set the mood and feel of your home:
One of my essentials when entertaining is setting the mood – choosing the right music and making your place look a bit special. I will admit this is my wife’s department and she does a great job. We have some fantastic old crockery that has been handed down through family, which will make an appearance as beautiful share platters on the table. We love picking flowers from the garden and arranging them in vases where it works best – sometimes that’s smaller arrangements down the table.
A drink or two before guests arrive:
Another entertaining essential…have a drink before everyone arrives! No seriously have two…. I love hosting and creating a beautiful experience for my friends.
Keep the kids happy and involved:
One of my tips for keeping the kids happy when guests are coming is to find ways to get them involved, they love helping and giving them tasks can keep them busy too. My son Max loves cooking and helping me although the younger one, Rio usually just wants to make a mess!
Appliances that make life easier:
Induction cooktops are easy to clean, quick and look fantastic. I have an Electrolux 90cm Induction Cooktop (EHI955BD) on my island bench which creates a space where you can cook and entertain guests all at once. If you can, invest in a plate warmer to keep lunch warm while your guests are enjoying themselves. The Electrolux 14cm Built in Warming Drawer (EWD1402DSD) is the perfect size and can double as a gentle slow cooker for confit trout.
Don’t go overboard, don’t overthink it, plan ahead, keep it simple and have fun.