Q. I’m hosting a multi-course dinner party. What tips do you have to help me plan a meal that progresses nicely? Are there rules for each course? — Emily, Little Chute
A. Emily, here are some tips I would share. To begin, I would map out the whole dinner party. Answer the basic questions of who, what, when and where. If you have to answer why, don’t have the party! These questions will lead you to the how. Consider who your guests are and what they might enjoy for dinner. Then, decide what you will prepare and when it needs to be prepared. Prepare as much as you can ahead of time, and keep in mind the time it takes to prepare, the time it takes to finish and the timing of each course with the other courses. Don’t forget to pair the beverage that will accompany each course. Wine is always a popular choice for dinner parties because there are thousands of flavor profiles from which to choose. If you plan out your dinner party in this way, you will avoid some common errors like producing way too much food or repeating flavors and textures. It also helps to look at the whole dinner party experience so you can avoid overstuffing your guests. If you think about it, you literally could have a 15-course meal if the portions were appropriately sized.