By Christie Vanover | Published October 25, 2015 | Last Updated June 27, 2022
Admit it. You want to throw the most memorable dinner party on the block. You’ve scoured Pinterest for ideas and haven’t quite found the perfect solution.
You’ve maybe considered making one of Julia Child’s exquisite roasts or even finding a catering company and passing the food off as your own.
Why does keeping up with Mrs. Jones have to be so darn hard?
Stop worrying yourself. Take a breath, and take a step back.
Why do we throw dinner parties in the first place? It’s so that we can socialize with our friends and the one thing that brings everyone together – food.
How many times have you raved over a dish a friend made because it sounded fancy and complex? But deep inside, it was just okay.
That’s not what you want from your dinner party. You want everyone to honestly love what you’ve created. You want them to feel comfortable that they can pronounce what they’re eating. You want to invoke a spirit of happiness and whimsy, not pomp and circumstance.
We have an easy solution that does just that – a burger bar
I know what you’re thinking:
“Um, tacky. Burgers are meant for casual backyard barbecues. I want a showstopper party.”
Don’t worry. We wouldn’t lead you astray.
Gourmet burgers are all the rage right now. Celebrity chefs across the globe are creating signature burgers for their restaurants, and it’s really easy to recreate that gourmet restaurant concept at home for your next dinner party.
There are three steps to pulling this off: toppings, presentation and authority. We’ll explain the last one in a minute.
First, let’s talk toppings
Fancy burgers simply come down to creative condiments like coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, roasted peppers and a variety of ailois and ketchups. When layered correctly with a perfectly grilled patty, magic happens.
Search the Internet for five burgers that stand out to you. Don’t worry how the condiments are made, just look at what the toppings are and how they’re layered.
Got your list? Here’s the good news. You might be able to find a bunch of those toppings pre-made at your grocery salad or olive bar. You can even find pre-made flavored ketchups, mustards and chutneys online.
There may be a few items you’ll have to make from scratch, but most can be made a few days in advance, reducing the stress come party time.
Now, name your burgers, and create a 5×7 card for each one, listing the order the toppings go in. This way, your guests can create each burger themselves as they step up to the bar.
Step two is presentation
This is the key to making this burger bar memorable. Once you have your five burgers narrowed down, categorize each burger’s toppings on matching serving dishes.
Are you creating a steakhouse burger with sautéed mushrooms and French fried onions? Then, we suggest using a variety of Acaciaware wooden serving platters and bowls from Pacific Merchants. Do you have an Asian burger? Try the crisp, white serving dishes from Emile Henry.
Come party time, we suggest grilling three 3-ounce sliders per person, using 80/20 beef seasoned with salt and pepper. Include some portabellas for your vegetarian friends, too. Place the patties and buns at the start of the burger bar, and let your guests become burger artists.
Be the burger authority. Take pride in your creations, and explain each variety to your guests as they walk through the line.
- Let them know if a celebrity chef inspired one of the burger builds. They’ll be excited to eat a Bobby Flay or Guy Fieri burger.
- Point out your 5×7 cheat cards, and explain that if they layer the condiments in that order, they’ll get the right balance of texture and flavor in every bite.
- And let them know that the reason your burgers taste so darn good is because they’re made with the right beef to fat ratio. After all, fat equals flavor.
Finish out the burger bar with some colorful veggie chips and a couple of side dishes and drinks. Instead of a cumbersome cocktail bar, just serve up a variety of craft beers and fine wines in Dimple beer and stemless wine glasses from soireehome. These glasses keep beverages cold to the last drop.
Then, just sit back and enjoy the roomful of conversation about which burger everyone thinks is best, and be prepared for the burger buzz that will continue over the next week, as your guests tell everyone what a trendy, fun party they attended.
In time, the grill will become a shared domain.