I have had the pleasure of meeting the author, the talented and lovely, Denise Vivaldo, and took a class from her on food styling. Ms. Vivaldo spent many years catering to the rich and famous, and has plenty of funny stories to share as a result.
The Entertaining Encyclopedia is the latest book from Denise Vivaldo that helps solve the dilemma of throwing a party that literally does NOT look like you just threw it together.
There is a comprehensive section on 'Essential Party Elements', including a lot of fun and unique themes (themes make parties more fun for both you and your guests!), locations, decor, seating arrangements, food presentation tips, and the second section is a comprehensive selection of theme menus, with accompanying recipes.
Whether you are looking for a Champagne and Caviar Party or a Kids' Treasure Hunt, Denise has got you covered.
I made the above Zucchini Walnut Dip with Lavosh Crackers (I subbed other crackers, since Lavosh is as rare as hen's teeth in Akron), from the Turkish Twilight Menu, which also includes Spiced Lamb Kebabs, Roasted Eggplant and Peppers, Carrots, Onion and Tomato Couscous, and Almond Apricot Tart.
If you have the opportunity to join Denise at one of her Culinary Entrepreneurship programs, I highly recommend it. It is the most fun you will ever have learning the tricks of the trade. And you'll learn just what exactly is done to food to get it ready for professional photography, most of which renders it inedible. (I'm lucky if I get a few good shots before I succumb to hunger and eat my subject.)
If you are looking to punch up your entertaining skills, a copy of The Entertaining Encyclopedia will come in handy all year long.