It was such a thrill for me to be able to sit down with one of my idols, Lulu Powers, to discuss entertaining. The stylish and beautiful Lulu is the bestselling author of Food to Flowers: Simple, Stylish Food for Easy Entertaining and is one of the most sought-after caterers anywhere. Her megastar clients include Bill Clinton, Madonna, Arianna Huffington, and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith.
Here’s Lulu’s take on my burning questions on food, single girl cooking, and entertaining.
Topic 1 – Dating
Alex: Here’s the made-up scenario: A guy asks if I can cook. My answer: “That stint at French cooking school was a few years ago, but I can probably still whip something up.” The real answer: My motto’s always been: “Why cook when The Ivy lets us carry-out?” Guy sets a date for tomorrow. Is it okay to get the Ivy Chopped and put it on china?
Lulu: If you don't have time you can do that. You don't have to cook to entertain. There is a whole section in my book on this. Whole Foods is great. You could even heat up one of their pizzas and make a simple arugula salad with olive oil and lemon and salt and pepper. Stick out hummus and pita chips with carrots. Sprinkle olive oil and some fresh herbs on the hummus. TA DA........homemade!
Topic 2 – Football
Alex: What’s your favorite fall football-watching cocktail?
Lulu: A Dark and Stormy or my Apple Moonshine Punch.
Topic 3 – Should Single Girls Cook?
Alex: This is a true story that happened last year: A guy opens my refrigerator. It’s empty, save for an unopened jar of mustard, two cartons of lemonade, and eight bottles of champagne. The guy seemed to think this was strange, but I thought it was normal. It’s depressing to cook for one. Are Rice Krispies and champagne for dinner okay until one gets married?
Lulu: Learn how to cook. Cooking is a basic tool in life. Learn to fry an egg, learn to make toast and a bowl of pasta, learn how to cook veggies. Use yourself as the guinea pig. Teach yourself or take a cooking class. Even if you master one meal. Why not keep some of my caramel fudge brownies or mini grill cheese (out of my bestselling cookbook "Lulu Powers Food to Flowers") in your freezer? Then you’re all ready to go for an unexpected guest. You can actually say, “I made these. Try one." You’re ready for dinner or dessert. Being prepared is key. They are both fabulous with champagne.
Topic 4 – My Friends’ Organic Kids
Alex: My friends who are having children are obsessing on “organic” food for their kids. I tell them that I ate Chicken McNuggets five days a week and ended up okay. Who’s right?
Lulu: Times have changed. There are so many chemicals used today in farming. I think if you can do it it is better to go organic. Otherwise wash all your vegetables really well. Try to buy at farmers’ markets.
Topic 5 – Entertaining
Alex: Should you “seat” guests at an informal dinner party? If so, with place cards? The last three dinner parties I’ve been to I’ve been seated between the least interesting people at the party. Did this mean the hostess thinks I’m boring? Or really interesting to balance out their boringness? Shouldn’t I be able to pick my dinner companions (tall, blond, tech guys) during cocktail hour?
Lulu: I would let everyone choose their own seat, but it is the right of the host how they want to seat people. I really think you should make it fun. For example, use table topics as name cards in an apple. It's all about what the host exudes. If you're gregarious your hosts think you can talk to anyone and they will usually sit you next to someone who doesn't talk much. Make it your job to befriend them. If you are single I would hope the host would sit the single people next to each other.
Whew, just the answer I was looking for. Thank you, Lulu! Lulu’s book is one of the best entertaining books I’ve ever read, so I’d highly encourage you to visit Amazon and pick it up. Oh, and check out Lulu’s recipes on her great site as well. Because she’s right, everyone should know how to cook. After all, good food goes really well with champagne.