Is your standard hosted dinner feeling a little tired and over-done? Then, we’ve got a creative solution for you! Ragan Wallake and Molly Schoneveld are the creators of the Farmers’ Market Mashup. Trust us when we say that this is one dinner party that is anything but boring. Learn more about this collaborative, competition-style dinner party below!
We admit that entertaining can be overwhelming! Getting the right mix of people, décor, menu planning—not to mention all of the actual cooking—combine to take its toll on hosts and hostesses. Potlucks and progressive dinners, of course, ease those entertaining stresses. But, we had the idea to take it a step further.
The Farmers’ Market Mashup began as a twist on these collaborative dinner parties, while also taking advantage of the local goods and produce available at the weekly Sunday markets. And, we confess, it’s also a cheeky way to get your guests to do all the work! Find out how to host your own mashup below.
- Diversity is key: Don’t be afraid to invite friends who have never met each other and who have little or no cooking experience. It is also an easy way to mix couples with non-couples without anyone feeling left out because we never put couples on the same team. We have found that asking guests to rate their cooking skills on a scale of 1 to 3 when they RSVP helps us curate the teams fairly. We have four teams total with three to four people per team. Teams are not revealed until the meet-up on the morning of the market. Then each team is assigned one of four courses: Appetizer, Cold Main, Hot Main and Dessert.
- Hostess with the ‘mostess’: Ultimately, your guests are the ones who provide food for the party. However, there are a few necessities to help the day go smoothly. First, the host should designate separate areas in their home for each team to prep. We label each station with a team number according to course, and provide a chef’s knife and cutting board. The host also provides basic ingredients like flour, sugar, salt, oil and milk. We recommend that at least one of the hosts not be on a team. Instead, that host should be the person to keep the day moving and the teams organized with kitchen tools they may need throughout the day.
- Keep ’em comin’: Set up a bar area with your favorite beverages, like cocktails, rosé, lemonade and plenty of water. This is a party, after all!
- Rules of the market: We ask everyone to arrive at the farmers’ market at 10 a.m. We also ask them to bring $30 cash. It is helpful to make sure everyone eats breakfast because it can take awhile before the first course makes it to the table. We then announce the theme (ex. “Fall”), pair the teams, assign the courses and then the teams are set free. Everyone has one hour to come up with a recipe, purchase ingredients and meet back at the host’s home. NOTE: We do allow the use of the Internet to help with recipes, but we encourage creativity.
- Timing is everything: After hosting three mashups, we understand the importance of giving each team an approximate time of when they should have their dish on the table. Otherwise, you’ll be eating brunch at 6 p.m. The team with the appetizer course should be given immediate access to the oven and stove, while other teams start to prep.
- Take a bow: Now the best part of the day! Course by course, each team presents their dish and you finally get to taste test. After dessert has been served, the voting begins. Each team is judged on creativity, chef skills, best use of theme ingredient and taste. We always give a small prize to the winning team (last time it was a potato masher). However, it’s way less about winning and more about good friends, great food and a lot of friendly competition!
In truth, we have found the Farmers’ Market Mashup to be the most inclusive way to have a party because there is a shared activity for a common goal. So, invite a mix of people from your various circles—married, single, those who cook and those who don’t! By the end of the day, everyone will be fast friends. When you all sit down to share the meal you have prepared together, there will only be one question: When’s the next one?