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Watch Party

French TV Holiday Menu

Written by Caroline SchiffPhotos by Andrew Bezek

EDITOR'S NOTE: What's better than watching a riveting drama with great food and drink, right? Here are some scrumptious recipes crafted by Chef Caroline Schiff for your next French binge watch!

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Chef Caroline Schiff
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A note from the Chef:

The best parties are the most casual ones, where everyone nibbles, imbibes and socializes without the time constraints of a sit-down dinner. It takes the pressure off guests needing to arrive on the dot and means the host isn’t scrambling to coordinate hot dishes hitting the table at the same time. There’s a lazy elegance to grazing on little bites into the wee hours, especially around the holidays when it may be the second party of the weekend and everyone has lots of family and social calls to make. The first time I experienced entertaining like this was when I was living in France and had the privilege of being invited into French homes around the holidays. The gatherings were absolutely effortless; the host never breaking a sweat, never running back and forth to the kitchen. Bites and drinks were elevated yet satisfying; sophisticated but nonchalant. Each bite packed a punch and allowed me to keep consuming Champagne all evening long, with the host who didn’t seem to be too concerned with anything but enjoying the gathering as well.

I quickly learned that the secret to this kind of entertaining was to have everything set in advance, so host and guest can enjoy together. Keeping the chaos of the kitchen hidden is nothing new for the French. Traditionally, kitchens and those cooking were hidden from the wealthy families and their guests, which you’ll still see in older French homes today. The smells, sights and sounds of food preparation were considered uncouth, and kitchens were never the center of the home. A lot has changed in French society, but the idea of not letting your guests see you sweat over some canapes holds on, because it’s just nicer if everyone can relax and enjoy together. That’s exactly what this menu offers. This cocktail party is elegant and sophisticated- inspired by some of my favorite classic French hors d’oeuvres- and with a little strategizing, is set well before your guests arrive, so all you need to worry about is pouring more bubbles and catching up with friends. ~ Chef Caroline Schiff

About the Chef
Caroline Schiff is a chef based in Brooklyn, NY with a decade of experience in restaurants and bakeries. In May 2018 she launched her culinary consulting firm ParadigmSchiff, offering recipe and product development, menu consultations, concept development and corporate events. In winter 2019 Caroline will take on the role of Pastry Chef at the re-opening of Gage & Tollner, the legendary Brooklyn restaurant. She has been featured on Vice: Munchies, Food Network’s Beat Bobby FlayGenius Kitchen,, Hulu’s Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi and stars in the documentary series, Her Name Is Chef. Follow Caroline here: @pastryschiff.