Culture

Festival fever

Elle Canada
Culture

Festival fever

Andrien Brody and Jessica Biel may not be on your invite list (and even if they were, it's a slim chance they'd show) but that doesn't mean you can't host your very own red carpet soiree. And with the A-list descending on Hog Town for this year's Toronto International Film Festival like a swarm of Pucci-swathed locust it's hard not to get caught up in all the glitteroti.

First things first: Hollywood types may have fully outfitted dream kitchens but they're used for display not for actual cooking, so hire a caterer. Wolfgang Puck or Mark McEwan will do nicely.

Seriously though, parties larger than 12 people should be catered and when you consider your time grocery shopping, food schlepping and prepping, and the task of cooking then cleaning up afterwards, having a local gourmand do it all for you makes a lot of sense. And it leaves you more time to shop and accessorize for your walk down the red carpet.

How to find a caterer? Look to your favourite restaurant or local gourmet shop. If you're having a full-on gala the caterer can look after renting silverware, dishes, linens, chairs, tables and even bartenders and servers, if need be. They all arrive sparkling and new then leave dirty and disheveled, like one of Britney's dancers. No fuss, no muss, no worries. You'll have so much free time a full-day spa treatment will be in order. How A-list are you feeling now?

The next task is to come up with a deliciously trendy cocktail for you and your guests to ooh and aah over. Snap, snap and done.

Fill a tall glass with ice and pour over 1 ½ oz. of Absolut Mango Vodka and 4 oz. of cranberry juice. Top with 7-Up and garnish with a lemon wheel that you've half-dipped into a bowl of sugar. Call it the Mango Spotlight or Festival Punch or whatever you like, just make lots of them and enjoy.Perhaps after a cocktail you'll feel a little industrious and decide to contribute some fun munchies to your party. Pink popcorn, all sweet and crunchy and served in small Chinese take-out containers is a fun and easy cocktail-hour addition. This recipe makes enough for about 24 small servings. Simply pop 2 cups popping corn in batches and transfer to a large bowl. Next stir together 2 cups of sugar, 1 Tbsp of butter and ½ cup of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil, without stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add ½ tsp real vanilla extract and a few drops of red food colouring. Stir until you get a lovely shade of hot pink. Slowly and carefully pour hot syrup over popped corn, coating evenly and stirring to combine well. Transfer to a large baking sheet and bake in a preheated 200˚F oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours stirring every ½ hour until popcorn is dry.

Now hop in the Benz and head to your local paper store and pick up enough take-out containers to accommodate the guest list or order them online at a site such as www.uline.ca. Dig through the bottom of your cosmetics drawer and find some outdated lipsticks. Place these in a small bowl and have your guests apply the lipstick (men too, of course) and kiss their take-out boxes. They'll be able to keep track of their snack box and judge the pucker power of fellow revelers. You can even hire an astute fortune teller who'll do lipstick readings -- a much more glamourous medium then sorting through soggy tea leaves.

Ambiance is everything in LaLa Land so you'll need of course, to unroll the red carpet and rope off an area outside the venue to keep the paparazzi and giddy onlookers at bay. Surround your residence with 1000 watt floodlights and hire a couple brooding security guards to admit your guests. Luckily you're caterer will be able to rent these items as well (yes, even the meatheads).

So all that's left to do is confirm Chris Martin and the rest of the boys from Coldplay, put together your $10,000 gift bags and schedule a half-day detox session with a member of your personal healthcare team. Bon soirée!

Ryan Jennings' new book Entertaining with Booze is due out this fall. For recipes, tips and trends check out  www.cookingwithbooze.com.

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Festival fever