Invite guests into the kitchen to make dinner parties easier with 'Cook the Part'

By H Hatfield

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 21 2012 4:00 p.m. MST

"COOK THE PART," by Karin Eastham, illustrations by Traci O'very Covey, Crosswalk Press, $24.95, 152 pages (nf)

If you enjoy hosting dinner parties but don’t relish the amount of work preparing the meal, a new cookbook offers a novel idea. With "Cook the Part" you can invite guests to don aprons and become sous chefs for the evening’s meal.

"Cook the Part," by part-time Park City resident Karin Eastham with illustrations by Utah native Traci O'very Covey, contains instructions for eight meals with the major tasks broken down into smaller tasks that are assigned to four groups of two people. Dinner party guests will enjoy one-on-one social interactions with their group partners while preparing their part of the meal and then all the guests gather to eat the meal together.

While the tasks each group performs are generally simple enough for a kitchen novice, the host really should have some kitchen experience. It is recommended that the host do the prep work ahead of time to help make the party go more smoothly. Doing the work ahead means fewer utensils are needed at each workstation and the workstations can be more compact.

The recipes have been well chosen to provide a nice, cohesive flow throughout the meal. The portion sizes are right — a relief after purchasing groceries for eight people.

The author suggests copying the recipes and work plans and distributing them to the guests before the evening to allow them to become familiar with the instructions. I would have preferred if the author made digital copies on her website available to electronically send to guests instead. This would have left room for more recipes in the book.

I hosted a party at a friend's house who had a larger kitchen and we prepared the Handmade Pasta meal. Two groups made pasta from scratch while the other two prepared the fillings for the ravioli, the salad and the lemon gelato. Everyone had a great time, including the husband who had rarely been seen in the kitchen before, and the food was wonderful. Each guest took pleasure in being able to help prepare the food. The instructions were easy enough to follow that everyone wanted to do it again.

"Cook the Part" is a great book for anyone hosting a dinner party and hopefully companion volumes will follow.

IF YOU GO ...

What: Karin Eastham and Traci O'Very Covey book signing

When: Tuesday, Feb. 28, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com

H Hatfield is a programmer for Deseret Digital Media, has attended culinary school and sings in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

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