With the holiday season in full swing, celebrity chef Jeff Mauro is taking the guess work out of entertaining by sharing helpful tips in an exclusive interview with Us Weekly.
When hosting guests for dinner, the Food Network star, 39, believes advance preparation is key: “The most important thing to do is to fully plan out your menu — this helps to stay organized. The next step is to figure out cooking times for the various dishes,” he told Us. “Just because dessert is served last, it might be the first thing you need to prepare because of cooking and cooling time.”
Mauro continued: “Once those items are in order, it is time to get cooking. Since preparing a meal for a crowd can be time consuming, I try to serve at least one dish where all the cooking is done in one appliance – which is where a pressure cooker, like the one from Black & Decker, comes in handy. You can prepare a full meal in one pot and have it cooking away without needing to tend to it as you work on other dishes.”
The season 7 winner of Food Network Star, who also loves cooking with George Forman products, went on to explain how he keeps organized in the kitchen while preparing several dishes at one time. “Cooking several items means the use of various pots, pans and utensils, which can quickly become chaos. Before I even start to cook, I lay out what I need for each dish. I also clean as I go – it can be as simple as throwing out scraps as I am finished with them or putting things directly into the dishwasher. Having a clear workspace is one of the keys to staying organized.”
And once the meal has been enjoyed, the executive chef of Pork & Mindy’s in Chicago offered up some helpful ideas of how to preserve leftovers. “To ensure leftovers stay fresh, package them individually based on the dish – potatoes with potatoes, meat with meat – and make sure the container is tightly closed. If there is any gravy or other sauces involved, I try not to pour those over everything as the dishes will get soggy and heating up the leftovers the next day might be less than appealing. If there is any doubt, throw it out! If you aren’t sure whether you will get to leftovers in time and don’t want to toss them, wrap them up super tight and put it in the freezer.”
When the professional foodie is not entertaining guests at home, you can catch him cohosting the popular Food Network show The Kitchen. “Being on The Kitchen is such a joy and I love filming with my co-hosts!” He said. “Since the start of the show, all of our personalities and cooking styles have melded together and I think that all comes through to the viewers.”
Most recently, Mauro’s Ultimate Mac and Cheese recipe, which was featured on the hit series shortly before Thanksgiving, went viral on social media. Fans were divided on his take of the traditional dish, which included roasted sprouts and winter squash.
“All I have to say is that it was delicious and we had a blast making it,” Mauro told Us. “I am sure that this isn’t the first mashup that the social media world dislikes nor will it be the last.”
With reporting by Marc Lupo
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