Eat Chic: What It's Like to Have Dinner at The Seinfelds
Imagine–in the dream world where all of your friends are A-list comedians and entertaining gurus–that you're invited over to the Seinfelds for dinner. Without any build-up, pomp and circumstance or mention of the menu, you can pretty much anticipate that this could end up being one of the best nights of your life. Jerry will be on top form, hilarious per usual without even trying to be, and Jessica's food will be delicious–exactly the kind of food you want to eat but never knew could come out of a home-cook's kitchen. Jessica Seinfeld knows you came to her house with great expectations. And in real life, she wants you to kick off your heels and chill casually on the couch with a cat in your lap eating fried chicken and drink an accessible, albeit delicious, Cabernet Sauvignon. No matter what level of expectation your guests show up with, exceeding them is key. We turned to the entertaining expert for her easy tips to entertaining for the holidays–and year round.
1. Make It Self-Serve.
"I try to do everything self serve; when you lay things out for people and you make it very clear that you want them to get their own drinks, it creates a relaxed atmosphere and they feel comfortable in your home. It also gives guests the freedom to move around a bit more–and I always try to make things very relaxed in my house. I feel like people come over and they have all these expectations; we couldn't be more casual and informal about entertaining, which overall leads to a very good time."
2. Top Yourself Every Time.
"I try to make every night the best night my guests have ever had. I try to top myself every time by not making food that's pretentious–I try to make comfort food that people really want to eat. Nobody should feel any vibe of pretention or formality, because then people laugh a lot and they drink a lot and it ends up being a really great night. I get great feedback on nights like that because having people in your home and making it feel like it's their home is really the key."
3. Make Amped-Up Comfort Food.
"I tend not to cook healthy when people come over–I go the comfort food route. Ill do lasagna, or a great fried chicken. Generally, my friends are pretty healthy; so when they come to my house, they come expecting big bowls of pasta, fried chicken, ribs and wings…nicer versions of the kind you'd get in a restaurant–since there is always something extra about it. I'll always serve a really special honey with fried chicken, or something that takes it to the next level."
4. Don't Make Your Guests Feel Like They Know Nothing...about wine, food–or anything for that matter.
"I try and serve wine that's really accessible. I think my friends come over expecting great wine that doesn't make them feel like they don't know anything about wine. A friend of mine from the west coast is always turning me on to cool, new, easy wines and that's how I got involved with Chateau Souverain–they've got a rich history but they're making a great, accessible product."
5. Fake Nothing.
"I make everything; nothing is semi-homemade. Maybe bread–I'll go out of my way to get a really great loaf of bread. I definitely cannot pull off an awesome loaf of bread like some other bakers can. In New York, I love Amy's Bread...I love Balthazaar baguettes–it really depends on what kind of bread I'm buying. I like Sullivan Street too…I think each bakery does different things really well."
6. Put In The Extra Effort.
"I will go all over town for two days getting ready for a dinner and get my favorite thing from each place. I will also get cannolis from Veniero's–I would not try to make those myself.I try to have a fun specialty that I haven't made before, or make sure to have a friend's favorite thing there, even if it means buying it. Be it a friend's favorite bread, or Ill make something that I know they love."
"When you wear flats you give off the vibe that you want people to relax. Most people take off their heels at my house; I don't have a shoe policy, but most people get there and realize that they did not need to try and pull off a look with the highest heel and they get comfortable.I have dogs and cats running around–how could I ask people to take off their shoes!?"
8. You Don't Have to Serve Champagne
"I'm a red person, I like Cabernet and Merlot. In the summer I have a ton of Chardonnay sitting in my fridge and I feel like its going all day when my friends are here in the summer or when we're at the beach. I am personally a champagne hater, so I have it for brunch to add orange juice to it but there is not a lot of champagne being poured in my house. I don't like the taste or the way it makes me feel–I feel MISERABLE the next day. It's fun, I get it–but I found this effervescent white wine that I drink in the summer instead.
9. It's OK If You Don't Love to Cook.
"Everything I make is easy–Im a good cook, but I don'tloveto cook. I do it because I have kids and a family and I want them to eat healthily, but you're never going to get some fancy, really sophisticated, difficult recipes from me.
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