Why Bobby Flay Prefers To Serve His Food Family-Style

Whether you're a celebrity chef like Bobby Flay or simply someone who likes hosting dinner parties, the last thing you want when having friends or family over for a meal is to get stuck in the kitchen preparing food alone when you could be enjoying quality time around the table with your loved ones. Fortunately, Flay offers advice on how to avoid this scenario: Serve your food family-style.

Plating uniform, individual portions for a group takes a lot of time and effort just before sitting down to eat; it can also make you feel like you are working in a restaurant, rather than relaxing at home. For a more pleasurable experience, bring food to the table on a few large platters instead of many small plates. Besides making things easier for yourself as a host, the plentiful appearance of these hearty portions also adds a sense of conviviality to the entire event.

Serve family-style for an inclusive and less wasteful meal

Bobby Flay's preference makes a lot of sense: Family-style meals are not only ideal for the host of a dinner party, but also offer a better experience for guests. By placing large servings of each dish on the table, everyone has the opportunity to decide for themselves what they would like to eat. This generous and inclusive approach takes the pressure off the host, while giving guests the freedom to navigate the menu based on their own hunger levels and dietary restrictions. In this way, family-style meals help to avoid food waste, which can save money and minimize your impact on the environment.

For the most effortless, delicious dinner, consider cooking and serving your meal in a casserole dish. Baked pasta is especially well-suited for this setup. You can opt for something simple, like a gooey mac and cheese, or level up with David Tanis' broccoli rabe lasagna. Be sure to check with guests about gluten and dairy allergies beforehand, or plan to have an allergen-free, vegan casserole available as well.

Tips for preparing a family-style meal

When it comes to preparing for a family-style meal, you may also want to heed the advice of another celebrity chef when it comes to the plates to use when hosting a dinner party: Ina Garten sticks with plain white platters. Garten, who, like Bobby Flay, is a fan of this communal approach to serving, advocates for simple tableware that does not steal attention from the food itself. Before the party begins, make sure you have several large platters in neutral colors. They do not have to match in size or shape, but they should be free from patterns.

If this is your first time serving a family-style meal in your home, give yourself plenty of time to experiment with the table setting. Depending on the size of your gathering and your table's surface, it may be challenging to fit everything so that each dish is comfortably within arm's reach or easy to pass between guests. Start by arranging each individual place setting. Once the small plates and glasses are laid out, you can quickly determine how many sharing platters will fit in the center, which can also help you plan the menu.