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Although some restaurants are preparing to reopen, many fine dining establishments are not turning on the stoves just yet. But that doesn’t mean we should give up on the delicious and elegant experience of a tasting menu. If your guests can’t go to the restaurant, bring the restaurant to the guests!

When dining out, there’s nothing that tops a tasting menu. An exquisite bite-sized multi-course menu is at its peak when it’s seasonal, thoughtful, and highlights what the restaurant does best. Home cooks usually stray from the amount of work that could lead to a less than satisfying dinner. But with the right menu, ingredients and attitude, a tasting menu could make for a real restaurant-like experience. Here’s how to do it.

What Is a Tasting Menu?

Tasting menu
Bouley at Home, New York, NY

A tasting menu is a thematic collection of dishes in small portions that highlights the chef’s skills and the restaurant concept.  More often than not, luxurious ingredients like truffles and caviar are used to elevate a menu and differentiate it from the restaurant’s standard fare. Beverage pairings including wine, beer, and craft cocktails, enhance the meal by dazzling your senses and exciting the mind with flavor combinations that were originally unimaginable. This menu concept has become very popular in food obsessed cities attracting customers with high disposable incomes seeking a dining experience. 

A Cooking Adventure

French Laundry, Yountville, CA

Creating a tasting menu is like going on a culinary adventure where you get to prepare dinner in a whole new way. Unlike a single, main-course dish where you can sharpen your cooking skills in one particular area, a tasting menu offers a range of dishes that require many different cooking techniques.

For the home cook, a tasting menu is an opportunity to utilize some of the cooking fundamentals on a smaller-scale, while also working on different styles and techniques. 

The 3 Rules of a Perfect Tasting Menu

Manresa, Los Gatos, CA

Get the portions right.

The best tasting menu explores a myriad of textures and flavors in many dishes. To capture the essence of the experience, each dish should be no more than four to five bites.  Get creative, swing for the fences, and satisfy your guests with exciting new food pairings in small portions.  

Keep a steady pace.

Tasting menus at restaurants can last for hours, so keep a steady pace and avoid long gaps in between courses.  Start by batch cooking and prep everything in advance, so on the big night, you will only need to warm the sauces, sear the meat, dress the salad, and fry the chips for quick and easy plating.  Also, mix in dishes that need no preparation at all like perfectly ripe fruit, sorbet, and chilled soup.  Do all of this and your guests will stay engaged while keeping your effort unnoticed.  

Know your limits.

Some of the best tasting menus in the world can have over 20 courses. Remember, you’re not Thomas Keller.  Plan a menu that you can execute and won’t leave you stressed out. You’re hosting a dinner party for your friends and family, so leave time to enjoy the meal with your guests. Have fun with the menu, but be realistic about how many courses you can prepare and the techniques needed to deliver a full meal.  

Cheetah Helps You Prepare

Nantes Carrots

Every tasting menu begins with fresh, high-quality ingredients. Cheetah’s app makes sure that no matter what size dish you’re making, you will have affordable, restaurant-quality ingredients and supplies ready to use. 

Stay tuned for tasting menu themes and recipes from our chef! 

 

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