In a suburban kitchen on the outer edge of Toronto, half-cooked steak, mystery fish eggs and a whole lot of vodka set the scene for an “interesting” Russian-style dinner party.
Known more for their ability to throw a wild soirée than master a dinner party, hosts Erina Karamani and Elena Morozovathe focus their hosting energy on the entertainment portion of the evening: vodka shots, a martini demonstration and raunchy question period.
On the set of the reality show Dinner Party Wars, where teams take turns trying to one-up each others culinary prowess, hosting grace and entertainment abilities, the 24-year old hosts are delivered bad news moments before their guests arrive.
“That’s not caviar,” celebrity chef Corbin Tomaszeski tells the 24-year old hosts. “That’s roe.”
Staring blankly at each other, the two blonds dressed in animal prints have to think quickly to come up with a plan B.
“Maybe it’s their strategy to appear like dumb blonds who don’t know what they’re doing,”says fellow contestant Greg Danakas. “But I’m sure they’re not (dumb blonds) and they will really surprise us. But at least it will be interesting when they hit the kitchen.”
Having grown up in the stock room of his parents’ restaurant, Danakas says he and his wife Helen make a perfect hosting team.
“I do the cooking and he does the entertaining,” she says adding his career as a high school drama teacher is evidence he’s not one to shy away from centre stage.
“I’m pretty sure we can win this thing... After all, how can you beat Greek hospitality?”
What happens when you throw two wrestlers, a conservative couple and a life-of-the-party duo into a ring with a bottle of tequila?
Chef Corbin Tomaszeski
Preparation, preparation, preparation. The number one reason people fail at dinner parties, says Chef Corbin, is because they don’t think ahead. “They fly by the seat of their pants and more often than not, are caught with them down.”
Cook what you know, know what you cook. “Too often we have people who want to play chef and cook things far too complicated,” says Chef Corbin. Usually, the show-off chef fails. Keeping things simple is the key to success.
Taste test. Serving before tasting is a common mistake, says Chef Corbin. “Cooking from a recipe can be very clinical, so you need to be tasting and touching — you’ll have a much better outcome”
Get it done. Finishing chores well in advance leaves more time for the hosts to entertain. “Set the table the night before and get your clothes ready,” says Turner who confesses she sometimes lays plates and cutlery two nights before a shindig.
Clean it! “Many times there’s a toothbrush, bleach bottle or remnants of kid’s potty in the washroom. I don’t want to see any of that,” says Turner. Paying attention to the small details goes a long way: Fresh soap, a clean hand towel and extra toilet paper roll are musts when hosting.
The season premiere of Dinner Party Wars airs Wednesday, August 31 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.