I greatly enjoy cooking for other people. I think a good meal has the ability to bring people together, tell a story, introduce new flavors, and can be a lot of fun. It’s my way of sharing a part of me with my friends and family.
Unfortunately, cooking for other people can be stressful if you are pressed for time and ideas. The demands of the task can especially feel overwhelming when a recipe goes awry or when trying to coordinate plates to come out at the same time. The first time I cook for someone also affects my nerves more so than the fifth or tenth time I’ve had someone to dinner.
I’m of the opinion that a host or hostess should be with guests during a dinner party instead of in the kitchen, tending to the stove. A gathering should be fun for everyone, not everyone except for the cook. So, before creating a menu, I ask myself questions such as:
- Why are we having the party?
- Can I make a meal that shares who I am with my guests?
- Do these recipes work together, can I easily obtain the ingredients, have I made these items before, is this a menu everyone will enjoy?
- Will I stress out so much that I won’t have a good time, too?
- Will my guests be offended if I don’t make the meal?
- Would a restaurant or carry out do a better job than I would in this specific situation?
- What is my schedule like tomorrow? Can I stay up after guests have gone to clean up, or do I need to go to bed right away to get as much sleep as possible?
Most times I end up cooking the meal, but sometimes I let a restaurant take care of the heavy lifting. How do you decide if you will cook a meal or treat guests to dinner at a restaurant? I’m interested in reading your thoughts on this issue in the comments.