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Finding Inspiration For Your Next Big Banquet

Some people love the idea of being able to put on a great meal for their friends, creating an atmosphere of companionship over delicious food, while enjoying each other’s company and socializing. Back in the 1990s, before I got married the first time, I used to have monthly dinner parties. My most memorable meal was the Indian dinner … I’ll never make naan by hand again, but it’s nice to say I had the experience.

Anyway, people work very hard on this sort of event for their friends, pouring their time, energy and love into it. But, without the right inspiration, it can be hard to plan this out. With my parents and in-laws coming to Thanksgiving dinner, this sort of event is on my mind. So, to help you (and me) plan out a fitting banquet for friends and family, this post will go through some of the different places you can go when you’re looking for the right ideas for your meal.

Banquet Idea #1: Set a Theme

One of the best areas to start with is the event itself, and the thing you’re celebrating. Depending on the purpose of the event, a theme might be an obvious choice. A friend’s homecoming, for example, is the perfect chance to include some of the food they had during their time away. Or, if you’re celebrating someone’s birthday, you could think about their favorite foods or the most popular options where they come from. Going back to my Thanksgiving feast, I’m thinking of “Traditional Thanksgiving … with a healthy twist.” Setting a theme for your event is one of the easiest ways to get some good initial inspiration for your meal. From there, you just have to figure out the dishes you’ll be making to match that theme.

Banquet Idea #2: Culinary Research

At this point, you might have to do some research. For my own research, I do a mix of rummaging through my collectiong of cookbooks, searching online recipes and exploring social medial. If you’re cooking foods which are native to another country, you may have never experienced them before and will need to learn to how to make them. When I did my Indian dinner, I purchased a copy of Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking.

Along with this, though, you may simply want to get an idea of the different ways a dish can be made. Two of the best places for this is Instagram and Pinterest, as you can search through loads of people’s resources at once. With this, you should also look at recipe sites like Recipe Savants, which give you the chance to see loads of different detailed guides. Using resources like this will make it way easier to get inspired with new and creative meals.

Banquet Idea #3: Go on a Food Safari

Of course, the internet isn’t the only place which can be used to inspire your culinary creations. If you like cooking and enjoy trying new foods, you’ve probably spent a lot of time exploring the different places on offer in your area. If you can find a restaurant serving similar food to the dishes you’d like to create, paying a visit could give you a lot of inspiration. You will see how they are prepared professionally, giving you an idea of how you could do it yourself. I’ve gotten lots of ideas for recipes simply by experiencing them in a restaurant!

Banquet Idea #4: The Iron Chef Method

One of the best ways to come up with a unique meal is by starting with an ingredient you wouldn’t usually use. To get your hands on something like this, you may have to do some exploring. Most cities and towns are home to food stores stocking a wide-variety of different options from different cultures. I love exploring Asian markets, but you’d be surprised by the interesting things you can find at your local Trader Joe’s! By going to these places, you will almost certainly find options which you haven’t tried before.

Hopefully, this will give you some good ideas of the places that you can go when you’re trying to find new and interesting dishes to serve your friends. When trying to arrange a food-based party, your primary concern should be finding food everyone can enjoy. Without this, it will be hard to create a memorable and entertaining event.

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About the author

Carma Spence has been experimenting in the kitchen since she was four years old and loves trying out new recipe ideas. She is the author of Bonkers for Bundt Cakes and Your Perfect Pie, as well as author and contributor to several more non-food-related books. With Carma's Cookery, she is taking her passion for empowering people and blending it with her passion for cooking, gift-giving and entertaining.

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