How to Host an Amazing International Dinner Party
From Spanish tapas to Korean banchan, the dishware makes the meal
Inspired to host an international-cooking-exploration dinner party? So were we! We chatted with Mary Rose Wiley, co-owner of the recently opened home goods shop Open Invite, to discover the secrets of setting a guest-worthy table.
"It's all about the serving platters!" Wiley says. "Obviously, a table that's fully decked out in high-quality, handmade stoneware is going to be stunning, but that's not always realistic. Inexpensive glassware and simple dishes can look awesome when paired with serving platters of different sizes, shapes, colors, and materials – a small wooden cheese board, a wide ceramic dish, a collection of small glass bowls. Also, linen napkins go a long way!"
For Wiley, the secret to being the host or hostess with the most or mostess is keeping an eye on atmosphere. "As a host of a dinner party, you aren't just serving food; you're creating an experience," she says. "And that's especially true when you're serving food from a specific cuisine."
She suggests heightening the experiences with authentic serving dishes so your guests can consume food in the manner in which it is traditionally presented. "If it's a Spanish tapas dinner, it's a fun chance to introduce your friends to a porrón. If you're setting the table for a Korean meal, you want to be sure you have a collection of small dishes to serve banchan." Still, hosting a globally focused dinner party is no excuse for appropriative behavior.
"All that said ... be mindful," adds Wiley. There's a fine line between paying homage to a culture not your own and annexing its traditions in a tone-deaf way. "Walk into a Pappasito's on Cinco de Mayo and you'll understand what I mean," she jokes. By focusing on authenticity rather than appropriation in your tableware and cooking, you can give your guests a hands-on immersion in another culinary culture they'll be sure to remember.