When it comes to hosting your Christmas lunch, the pressure to perform is on. But with the help of friends in high places, delivering the ultimate spread just got a whole lot easier.
According to Evan Moore, Head Chef at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in Melbourne, there's a few Christmas lunch hacks to set you on your merry way – it all comes down to being organised and not extending yourself beyond your skillset.
While plating up Heston-style cuisine is near impossible to replicate at home, Moore says you don't need to compromise on flavour or presentation to get it right. It's about thinking seasonally – consider share plates like premium grilled fish, swap vegetables for crisp salads and trade wintery mulled wines for sparkling champagne and white wine. When it comes to desserts – gingerbread biscuits and chocolate tarts with coconut gel and finger lime for a chic sugar fix.
Moore is less
Moore is adamant that being creative doesn't mean you have to spend hours in the kitchen either – but you can be the toast of Christmas by delivering a few chic canapés to kick start the day with family or friends.
"The key with canapés is they must be managed within one to three bites," he explains.
"They have to be tidy and easy to hold. You don't want guests feeling awkward when they take one to eat. The canapés are a great way to bring a little bit of Heston to the home."
At Stella Artois' Christmas Dinner by Heston held in Melbourne last week, Moore helped curate a cocktail menu for guests that can be created at home. If you fancy turning it up a notch, give your guests the Heston shimmy-shakedown with canapés such as chicken liver served on toasted brioche with mandarin gel or crispy chicken skin served with burnt onion mayonnaise and grilled shiitake for bite-sized morsels of naughty and nice.
Moore, who moved to Australia three years ago, says he'll bring smoked meats to his Christmas Day gathering with friends.
"I am big on barbequing and smoking meats – I do it in my backyard and love the process. Short ribs are my favourite," he says.
Moore, who likes to stray from tradition, says Christmas is a time you have to keep all palettes happy – therefore a roast is a must if it's a staple at your table each year, but don't be afraid to tempt with fish dishes.
"We're loving kingfish belly at the restaurant right now and it can be great for Christmas Day," he says.
"It has a huge amount of fat, and once grilled, it turns the fat to almost liquid and has one of the most amazing textures. Serve this with a salad as a main course on a hot day and your guests should be impressed."
Hit the sides
Other tips suggested swapping traditional veggies for a chic summer salad. Why not try to charcoal grill cos lettuce and broccolini for the ultimate green crush.
And when it comes to gravy, Moore says it needs to be on the table if you have a roast on the day.
"You have people who will never eat gravy and those who won't eat anything without it.
"To keep everyone happy, leave it on the table regardless. But if you go down the gravy route, make sure you start working on it a few days in advance by pre-making a stock. Don't leave it to the last five minutes before service. Then transfer the juices from the roast into your pre-made allowing more depth and flavour," says Moore.
"Chances are everybody will want to try it if it tastes that good."