Glamorous Dinner Party Advice From a Canada's Top Chef Judge

Former Torontonian Shereen Arazm—now proprietress of several buzzy L.A. restaurants—shares her recipe for success with Karen Robock

Nespresso Homepage Shereen Arazm Homepage Feature

Shereen Arazm

Shereen Arazm knows a thing or two about hosting a memorable dinner party. She’s a Top Chef Canada judge, Nespresso ambassador and the force behind several of L.A.’s top restaurants—including epic sushi joint Geisha House, and an offshoot of the wildly popular Toronto resto, Terroni. (Both of which are frequented by the likes of Isla Fisher, Selma Blair and Emma Roberts.) We asked the former Torontonian to help us brush up on our entertaining skills. Among her many pearls of wisdom? A very surprising way to serve coffee.

What’s your go-to dinner party outfit? I have a strict no jeans policy for myself—not for my guests. I love to wear an LBD with a sick pair of heels. But I’m famous for being barefoot by the end of the night, which I think is a good thing. It makes people feel at ease when the shoes get kicked off.

Is it OK to text an invitation? Never. You can send an invite by email, but never ever by text or over social media. And you must hand write thank you notes. Always, no exceptions.

Who’s the biggest celeb you’ve ever had at your table? Sorry, just like with guests my restaurants, I never name drop!

I’m guessing a few of your big-name guests have pulled some wild shenanigans over the years. Have you ever had to blacklist someone due to bad behaviour? Not yet! But I do love the next-day recap over a big cup of coffee at the kitchen island. Sometimes it’s almost as good as the party.

Are parting gifts cool, or do they scream kid’s birthday party? I have to send people home with something. Recently my daughters and I made fig jam, done up in little jars. But, it can also be something really simple. Sometimes I just get a box of Krispy Kreme donuts and everybody grabs one on their way out.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give a rookie host? Relax. That’s it. A stressed-out hostess will stress the guests out, too.

How important is lighting? Do I have to pull out candles? I’m sorry but you do. My husband says, “Here comes the séance” every time I light candles, but they really are important for setting the mood. And here’s a good tip I figured out this summer: Use flameless candles outdoors. At first I was like, no, they’re like fake plants, you just don’t. Then I tried them and they’re great. You don’t have to worry about them blowing out or dripping wax everywhere as the night goes on.

Do you usually serve coffee after dinner? Lately I’ve been serving iced espresso as guests are arriving. What I’ve been doing is making espresso, adding a little agave syrup to make it sweet, and shaking the heck out of it in a martini shaker. Then I strain it into champagne flutes and serve them on a platter as people come in. The coffee is a stimulant so it gets people talking—it basically gets the party started. And it’s delicious.