Mastering cooking for a crowd is something that takes practice, like piano or ballet—the more you do it, the better you get. It is also true that a good teacher is key. So for this time of year, when many people host their biggest and most ambitious parties, we have enlisted some of the best teachers we know to help make your holidays the greatest they can be.
The most important criterion for a teacher is experience. Tamar Adler and her brother, John, have worked at some incredible restaurants, including Chez Panisse and Per Se. Their advice and recipes are the kind that instill excitement, which leads to bravery—like taking on a bollito misto that serves 20. Writer Daniel Duane was intrigued by the large-format dinner parties he’d heard about, at which the bottles of wine are huge, and so are the dishes. He undertakes an epic meal that would compete with Stanley Tucci’s in Big Night. Taking yet another approach is event planner Bronson van Wyck, whose reputation was made on extravagant soirees. He dials it back to advise us on the perfect cocktail party. I love his shredded Caesar salad, served from a huge wheel of Parmesan and placed on crostini. He also bottles his own salad dressings, which he sells online. They make an ideal gift.
I often struggle with what gifts to give—I worry about the orphaned ones that sit in the pantry for years or go straight to the regift pile. With that in mind, we’ve culled the very best presents to buy—and for those who are more ambitious, also recipes to make some of them. Hint to my wonderful husband, who’s always searching up until the last minute: Any of these would be a great gift, but a trip to Toronto like Kate Krader’s, where we could eat at Daniel Boulud’s new restaurant (that’s Daniel with me, above) or David Chang’s “ultimate noodle bar,” might be the best of all.
What I’m Giving Now: Books on My Gift List
Edible Selby by Todd Selby
Photographer Todd Selby’s scrapbook reportage on passionate cooks and famous chefs around the world. Messy, magnificent, inspiring. $35.
The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl Day & Griffith Day
Down-home and fabulous, the recipes from Cheryl and Griffith Day are delicious classics with a little something extra. $25.
Polpo by Russell Norman
An authentic and inspiring Venetian cookbook from the London restaurant of the same name, with simple recipes like asparagus with Parmesan and anchovy butter. $50.