The Christmas issue

Our December issue is out now, featuring Paul Carmichael's recipes for a Caribbean Christmas, silly season cocktails and more.

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Chilled recipes for summer

When the mercury is rising, step away from the oven. These recipes are either raw, chilled or frozen and will cool you down in a snap.

Decadent chocolate dessert recipes for Christmas

13 of our most decadent chocolate recipes to indulge guests with this Christmas.

What the GT team is cooking on Christmas Day

We don't do things by halves in the Gourmet office. These are the recipes we'll be cooking on the big day.

Sydney's best dishes 2016

For our 50th anniversary issue in 2016, we scoured Australia asking two questions: What dishes are making waves right now? What flavours will take us into the next half-century? Sydney provided 16 answers.

Paul Carmichael's great cake

"Great cake, also known in Barbados as black cake or rum cake, is a variation of British Christmas cake that's smashed with rum and falernum syrup," says Momofuku Seiobo chef Paul Carmichael. "This festive cake varies from household to household but they all have two things in common: tons of dried fruit and rum. It's a cake that should be started at least a month out so the fruit can marinate in the booze. Start this recipe up to five weeks ahead to macerate the fruit and baste the cake."

Summer feta recipes

Whether in a fresh salad or seasonal seafood dish, feta's creamy tang can be used to add interest to a variety of summer dishes.

Mango recipes

Nothing says summer like mangoes. Go beyond the criss-cross cuts - bake a mango-filled meringue loaf with lime mascarpone, start off the day with a sweet coconut quinoa pudding with sticky mango, or toss it through a spicy warm weather Thai salad.

Shark Bay Wild Scampi Caviar

Bright blue scampi roe is popping up on menus across Australia. Here's why it's so special.

The party planner

1 Get the idea right from the beginning
Envisage the kind of party you want to throw, and be true to the dream. A party should be an expression of you and your true style.
 
2 Plan
Establish realistic timelines and deadlines, and stick to them. This is vital for remaining organised and keeping stress to a minimum. Creativity paired with administrative efficiency and financial understanding is a party match made in heaven.

3 Set a budget

This will allow you to engage the best and most appropriate suppliers for your needs.

4 Know your audience
Understand your invitees' likes and dislikes. If you're having a dinner party, seat guests appropriately because, at the end of the day, this is what makes the party work. I never seat couples or best friends together and I even like the idea of switching seats after each course (when there are, of course, not too many guests) - it gets people talking.

5 Create a point of difference
Not just for the sake of difference but to ensure you give guests a heightened experience. Read magazines and books, travel, dine out and listen to other people's experiences - you will gain plenty of ideas from this kind of activity.

6 Stay true to the original concept
Write down ideas, create a concept (where required) and stick with it - deviation will only cause disintegration.

7 Appeal to the eyes as well as the tastebuds

Food stations or buffet installations are great at cocktail parties because they allow those with a large appetite to graze throughout the entire evening while providing the host with a catering expression of generosity. Food needs to not only be delicious according to your tastes, but visually exciting, too. Simplicity is de rigueur - there's nothing like a perfectly ripe peach or a big bowl of beluga.

8 Set your stage for the right occasion
Lighting and candles, music, table settings, flowers and place cards all create ambience. The lighting is key to making everyone look sexy - votive candles are best as they are inexpensive, easy and you can spread them everywhere.

9 Don't say no to help
One man or woman can do nothing - a team of creative people collaborating is what makes a party. Find people you work well with; mutual respect is paramount.

10 Make sure your chosen environment can handle what you are trying to create
If there is not a lot of room in the kitchen for extra ovens, pots and pans, be clever with the menu. Devise it so that all the courses don't need cooking or heating - a fresh lobster tail with crunchy iceberg, avocado, citrus mayo and a wedge of lime is simple yet so luxurious.

11 Chic invitations
Invitations set the scene for your party and build anticipation for your guests, so take the time to get them right. Make sure all details are correct and instructions are easy to understand - a map reference, information on where to park, dress codes, clear RSVP details and so on. The new luxury is writing invitations on the thickest paper stock available.

12 Enjoy the process
Enjoying yourself is both the hardest and most important thing a party planner must do. The event itself is actually the least amount of the overall time you spend on creating the experience - ensure you have fun in the lead-up and after the event. If your guests see you enjoying yourself, they will too.

13 Embrace excess
Lots of food, lots of drinks, lots of ice. It's a bore to run out of anything and more means more fun. If your budget doesn't allow for an entire range of things, then have just one thing really well done - and lots of it.

Bruce Keebaugh is the CEO of The Big Group.

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