Taking the casual approach to entertaining Holidays: Author and restaurateur Barbara Smith tells how to throw a party with a minimum of stress.

December 20, 1998|By Kelly Kendall | Kelly Kendall,Indianapolis Star and News

For people who are nervous about entertaining at home, there's no better time than the present to throw a party, says Barbara Smith, restaurant owner, television hostess and author.

"The holidays are a great time to entertain, because often the house is already decorated," said Smith. "There's the least amount of work involved. And don't wait until your house is perfect, because there's no such thing as the perfect house. That's the old way of thinking."

The new approach to entertaining, said Smith, is more relaxed, ++ XTC more spontaneous, more fun. And she hopes she can help people rediscover its joys.

That's one of the reasons she wrote "B. Smith's Entertaining and Cooking for Friends" ($30, Artisan Publishing). Now in its third printing, the 1995 book promises to rejuvenate the concept of entertaining.

Smith's book infuses menus and settings with a perspective that's at once urban and global. Among the five special-occasion parties Smith's book takes readers through is a Kwanzaa/Christmas buffet, while many of the recipes are from countries she lived in as a globe-trotting fashion model.

Smith's book is written for readers of varying age, economic and ethnic groups. According to her publishing company, it is the first tabletop entertainment book written by an African-American.

The beautifully photographed 176-page book offers advice on a variety of entertaining issues, from maintaining a well-stocked bar to dressing a table to invitation etiquette. Recipes range from "comfort" food like Mom's Fried Chicken to the more sophisticated Grilled Shrimp With Mango Glace and Plantains.

In preparing the book, Smith drew on her experience owning three restaurants called B. Smith's, two of which are in New York and one in Washington.

Admittedly, Smith isn't your typical homemaker. She was the first African-American woman elected to the board of trustees of the famed Culinary Institute of America. And she has a TV show of her own, "B. Smith With Style."

But she insists that her ideas can be used by anybody, in almost any setting.

"I've always remained the girl next door," said Smith. "This book is written as much for my friends and family as for my new friends."

Pub Date: 12/20/98

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