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In anticipation of the series premiere of Bravo’s Top Chef Duels on August 6th at 10PM/9C, we're dreaming up a no-stress premiere party. You're invited.
Today: Brette tells us how to pull off the perfect viewing party -- on a weeknight. Start inviting your friends now.
There are a lot of ways I could start this article.
I could talk about how I started watching Top Chef at the soft, moldable age of 14, back in ye olde days when there was no Padma and when words like sous vide and vadouvan and Pacojet meant nothing to my just-pierced ears.
I could tell you about my first-ever internship, which was at BravoTV.com and involved sending DVDs to Tom Colicchio, which had my hands shaking and a strange red rash creeping up my cheeks every time I wrote out his address.
I could also say that sometimes I stand in front of the mirror with my shoulders pulled back and my face contorted into something that I think might say "sex kitten," but that really looks like a weird fish, and I pretend I am Padma, and then I turn away in horror and disgust and go back to researching fake crab sticks or medieval almond milk recipes.
But instead, I'm going to talk about how throwing parties around a TV show -- whether it's Top Chef Duels or The Bachelorette, which I shamelessly celebrated the finale of this past week -- is fun. It's a reason to gather people and to entertain effortlessly; to turn something on and have that be the center of attention, versus the steak that might be a little overcooked or the pie that's taking forever or the gossip that you just don't feel like talking about.
Make some snacks -- these ones are good -- and gather around. There's a show to watch, and you're going to get hungry.
When you get home from work: Whip up your cilantro mojo. Make the broth for your oysters, blend it, and strain it. You'll be warming it and adding the oysters' liquor once they're shucked, so you can keep it at room temperature on the stove.
Right before your guests arrive: Make your Warm Olives in Anchovy Oil. Put them out in small batches so you can keep the rest at the right temperature. (Yes, these are still delicious not-as-warm, if you're feeling lazy.) Start cooking your potatoes.
When people start trickling in: Get those wings in the oven.
Party time: Shuck the oysters, warm them through in the broth, then put it all back in the shells. Feed them to your guests as you make your Blistered Shishito Peppers. Bask in the smoky-salty-sweet air of your kitchen, and then go talk to people.
Hands up: Bring out the peppers, wings, and potatoes. Pour yourself a big glass of wine. The show's about to begin!
Throwing a Top Chef party too? We want to see it. Mention @Food52 and #TopChefDuels when you share your photos for a chance to win a $100 Provisions gift card!
This article was brought to you by Top Chef. Tune in for the new season premiere at 10PM/9C, on August 6th!