Image courtesy of the Lazy Gourmet.

A Caterer’s Tips to Safely Host Socially Distanced Gatherings in Your Backyard

Jenny Hui, executive chef at Vancouver catering company the Lazy Gourmet, understands the food and hygiene requirements needed to feed people safely. Our own backyard gatherings will be necessarily intimate this summer and also require a greater level of food safety awareness: no more family-style platters or chips and dips for folks to help themselves; this summer, it’s all about individual servings.

No matter how accomplished and practised you are at entertaining, chances are you are nervous about hosting a gathering that involves food you prepare yourself for friends outside your household bubble.

Single Serving

Try single serving desserts in shot glasses to keep things convenient and safe. Image courtesy of the Lazy Gourmet.

We asked chef Hui for her tips and advice on how to feel confident about safely entertaining at home for a gathering of between four and six people.

  • Use small glasses or shot glasses. You can easily pre-portion small appetizers for your guests. Make sure to include sauces and dips in the glasses as well. Serve on a tray so your guests can help themselves.
  • Place food on different tables to prevent too many people congregating around the same place.
  • If you don’t want to do too many dishes, source some recyclable or compostable takeout boxes. They are a great way to pre-portion smaller meals, and can be closed and distributed among your guests. Depending on what kind you find, some can be put in a low-set oven, to keep warm.
  • Stick to foods that aren’t too crumbly or too saucy—less to clean up afterwards.
  • For celebrations, instead of a large cake, make individual-sized cupcakes. Paper juice cups can be used as individual cupcake holders. They can also be coloured or decorated to fit your theme. Blowing out candles probably isn’t hygienic or safe right now. We recommend using fun sparklers.

Pre-portioning Is Key

  • For utensils, pre-wrap them in napkins to keep each set separated per guest.
  • For drinks, pre-mix batch cocktails so you can pour and portion them out before everyone arrives. Or have cans of drinks and/or mini bottles of bubbles or wine for each guest.
  • For meals, pre-portion and divide ahead of time, into individual serving sizes and containers/plates/boxes—whichever you decide to use. We recommend selecting dishes that may not require utensils.

Here’s a tasty dish you can make and safely serve pre-portioned in individual boxes:

Image courtesy of the Lazy Gourmet.

Mediterranean Appetizer Box

Serves 4 

12 mini spanakopitas, 3 per serving (purchased and baked according to package instructions or your favourite homemade version)

12 small carrots, peeled, 3 per serving

1 cup hummus, portioned into 1/4 cup servings (pre-bought or your favourite homemade version)

2 cups tabbouleh, portioned into ½ cup servings (recipe below)

3 cups chicken mango salad, portioned into 3/4 cup servings (recipe below)


Combine the following:

1 cup couscous, cooked as per package instructions

1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

1/4 cup lemon herb vinaigrette (see recipe below)

Salt, to taste

Ground black pepper, to taste

Chicken mango salad

Combine the following:

1 cup cooked chicken breast, diced

1 cup mango, diced

1/2 cup red peppers, thinly sliced

1/4 cup green onions, chopped

1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped

1/3 cup lemon herb vinaigrette (see recipe below)

Salt, to taste

Ground black pepper, to taste

Lemon herb vinaigrette

Whisk together the following:

1/4 cup lemon juice

3/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 teaspoon honey

Salt, to taste

Ground black pepper, to taste

To plate, each serving box will contain:

3 spanakopita

3 carrots

1/4 cup hummus

1/2 cup tabbouleh

3/4 cup chicken mango salad

For more local food ideas check out our Food and Drink section.


Post Date:

June 3, 2020