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For ideas on how to create a kitchen that doubles as an entertaining hub, we checked in with two expert hostesses.

Susan B. Barnes
November 01, 2018
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Being the hostess with the mostest blends planning skills with a sense of hospitality and grace, while at the same time making it all look seemingly effortless. Ensuring that your kitchen has everything to be an ultimate entertaining hub, especially around the holiday season, will only add to that sense of effortlessness. For ideas on how to create such a kitchen, we checked in with two epic hostesses—Elisa Marshall, founding partner and creative director at maman in New York City, and Jacqueline Bonanno, wife and partner of seven-time James Beard Award “Outstanding Restauranteur” finalist Frank Bonanno, and owner of more than 20 restaurants in and around Denver—for ideas, and added a few of our own, too. After all, the more time you can spend with your guests, the better.

Lacanche: “We have a side-by-side electric/gas Lacanche,” says Jacqueline. “Professional art, that stove. The ovens are slightly smaller than traditional American ovens, but Frank can have a turkey roasting on one side while I'm baking pies on the other, and he’s flipping blini on the built-in flat-top. It's pretty perfect (pretty and perfect, rather).”

Vitaprep: “Our Vitaprep gets as much action as our iron skillet and copper kettle,” explains Jacqueline, referencing cherished heirloom items in addition to the appliance. “For purées, juices, syrups … it’s the same model blender we use at all 20 restaurants, too, and lasts a lifetime.”

Boxed Place Settings & Ball Jars: “Crate & Barrel has simple white dinner plates in stow-away boxes of eight, and water goblets,” says Jacqueline. “I have several sets of both, ready for a pinch.” She also likes to have two-gallon Ball jars on hand, “…to fill with flowers, candles, punches, or fresh baked cookies.”

Wooden Cutting Boards & Cake Stands: “[Wooden cutting boards] are a staple for me for entertaining,” says Elisa. “You will use these over and over again to serve bread, mini canapés, or on the table for platters of cheese, charcuterie, fruit, etc. One of my favorites is from Vivi et Margot." She also enjoys creating various heights and using assorted cake stands, like the Wood Ellis Stand from Magnolia, to create a beautiful table or food station.

Drizly: Cut down on some of your hostessing errands with Drizly, the app that allows you the luxury of mobile shopping for everything from Champagne, beer, wine and spirits to ice and mixers. Simply place your order via the app and have it delivered right to your door. 

Drinks Dispenser: “Pre-batching cocktails is my go-to when entertaining for groups, as it is something you can batch and make in advance and leave as DIY on the table,” Elisa explains. “It takes the stress off having to make ‘on-order’ cocktails for all your guests!” Elisa likes the AERIN White Ceramic Beverage Dispenser. If your guests prefer wine, take a look at the Cooper’s Hawk Grapevine Decanter from which they can DIY, too.

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Barsys: When your guests arrive, leave the ‘on-order’ mixing to Barsys. The robot bartender takes orders from a mobile app and, with the click of a button, sends glasses back and forth to mix your guests’ favorite cocktails, leaving you with more time for mingling.

Silver-Plated Punch Bowl: Another of Jacqueline’s go-to items is the two-gallon silver-plated punch bowl she bought at Goodwill. “The bowl is stunning,” she says. “A statement piece to greet guests as their smiling reflections warp and broaden around a bowl of steamy chai or bright sangria.”

Insulated Coffee Press: “The oversized insulated coffee press from Ikea serves lots, stays hot, looks great, and press espresso is a crowd-pleaser,” explains Jacqueline. “The grinds make good compost, and leftover cold coffee gets blended with frozen bananas and milk as a smoothie treat for our sons in the morning.” To add a bit of bling to your press, take a look at the Copper Plated Press from ESPRO.

Take Home Containers: “If you are like me, food is always at an abundance, and there are always lots of leftovers at my dinner parties,” says Elisa. “I love sending my guests home with extras, and of course beautifully packaged.” In her pantry, Elisa has kraft boxes on hand that she can finish with ribbon.

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