Hong Kong's Top Chefs Share Tips On How To Host A Christmas Party At Home
Vicky Lau, Tate Dining Room And Bar
Organisation is key.
Executing a successful event is 70 per cent organisation. Start a few days early and count down to your guests’ arrival. I like to start with cleaning out the fridge three days before, so that there is room for all the new ingredients.
Set the table a day before.
This way you can ensure that you have everything from napkins to chairs and tableware in place, and you won’t have to scramble at the last second.
When planning your menu, pay attention to guests that may have special dietary restrictions and work around them. I like to make one or two dishes last minute but if you want to be present with your guests, it’s nice to prepare more ahead of time by making dishes that only require simple reheating. Avoid foods that generate too much smoke, if possible.
Prepare some canapés for early arrivers.
The arrival time between guests may vary, especially in a home environment. Some guests may be hungry while waiting for others to get there. Take care of them with some simple canapés that pair well with champagne or cocktails.
Overstock the bar.
There may be a few guests that enjoy the party so much that they drink your bar dry. Buy more drinks than you need.
Get wine glass markers.
Invest in stylish wine glass markers to make it easy for your guests to identify their glass. After a few drinks (and unless you’re wearing a distinctive lipstick), it’s easy to forget which vessel is yours: a mistake no one wants to be making during a year stained by Covid-19.
Create a cleaning area.
Don't forget to make space for all the dirty plates. Be sure to clear the sink before guests arrive. Stacking up items in piles is a clever way to organise yourself and will lead to an easier clean-up afterwards.
Pay attention to sustainability. We often create a lot of waste after a party. One way to have a zero-plastic party is to borrow plates from friends or from companies that do this. You can cut down on single-use plastic this way.
Esther Sham, Maison Es
Play lots of Christmas music.
Frank Sinatra’s White Christmas is a favourite. Otherwise, search for a Christmas jazz playlist on YouTube. Turn your TV into a fireplace using the many fireplace videos and backgrounds available online.
Light some scented Christmas candles.
Go real or go home.
If you’re getting a Christmas tree, get a real one—even if it’s not very tall. The flower market in Prince Edward has some beautiful ones.
Invest in Christmas table linen.
If you don’t want to store them for the entire year just for use during the holiday season, then invest in paper napkins from Amazon. But make sure they have a Christmas print on them.
Andrea Zamboni, Aria
The fresher the better.
My philosophy centres on using the best produce, so I would create a centrepiece out of fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices. Think grapes, chestnuts, dried figs, dates, clementines, pine needles, cinnamon, star anise, lemons from the Amalfi coast and, of course, lots of fresh and colourful tomatoes.
To begin, I’d serve rich, creamy burrata and some Mazara red prawn tartare... I love this red prawn, which is only found in the waters around Mazara del Vallo, a small town on the southwest coast of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea.
Salmon to share, marinated and smoked with homemade pickles and some croutons, as an appetiser. I would match it with some Franciacorta wine, as every celebration should have some bubbles.
No Italian meal is complete without pasta. I’d treat my guests firstly to a chilled spaghetti with chives, shallots and caviar paired with a nice rosé champagne. I’d then serve a special ravioli inspired by my favourite Chinese dim sum: the xiao long bao. My Italian version is a ravioli filled with turbot tartare with a bit of citrus, bergamot, orange and lemon zest and a touch of basil. For the ravioli, the top layer is made from beetroot and the bottom is made with squid ink. To drink, I would open a nice, elegant red wine, maybe from Tuscany or Friuli.
My mother used to prepare an amazing roast stuffed chicken with some black truffle slices. I’d stuff it with minced pork, chestnut and bread, and mix it all together with a vegetable mirepoix, a slow-cooked flavour base. Roasted to perfection, the bird would be golden brown and crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, served with classic sides such as glazed vegetables, potato purée and buttered spinach. I’d pair this with a red wine, perhaps a vintage Barbaresco or a Barolo.
I’d finish off with a nice cheese platter instead of a sweet dessert, as people would be quite full by now. I’d pair this with a Passito di Pantelleria [an Italian moscato wine] or a well-made Sauternes [a French sweet wine]. To finish off the meal, we would have some panettone and pasticcini [pastries], coffee, grappa [an Italian brandy] and amari [herbal liqueurs].
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