Fondue conjures up a variety of conceptions; some are true, many are not. Double dipping. Fire hazard. Outdated. Are you running for the hills? I hope not. Fondue, though gaining popularity, often goes overlooked as the perfect fare for entertaining. So many of us are short on time and use this as an excuse to pass on entertaining, but fondue can be assembled in little time and with affordable ingredients. Plus, it gives the host a chance to sit and enjoy the evening with guests rather than slaving away in the kitchen. Here are five simple tips to help you throw a successful fondue party of your own.
Since fondue is made up of a combination of various foods meant for dipping, this is a great opportunity to spread the ingredient responsibilities among your guests. Let them know what kind of fondue you’ll be making—savory, sweet, cheese, oil, etc.—and allow them to bring creative foods to share. As I always say, asking guests to bring something will help them feel more involved in the party and make things much easier for you. If possible, encourage guests to prep ingredients (cut the veggies or fruit, for example) before arriving to ensure the kitchen doesn’t become overly crowded. Another important BYO tip is to make sure you have enough fondue pots. If you choose to make more than one type of fondue, line up fondue pots that can be borrowed from others or have guests bring theirs to share.
Since many of us imagine a scene right out of the 1970s when it comes to fondue, why not use that as a theme? Guests can come dressed in their favorite ‘70s garb and dip away to classic ‘70s tunes for the night. Another option is to create various fondue combinations that represent specific countries. Or create fondue versions of popular dishes, by deconstructing familiar dishes, like tomato soup and grilled cheese. Take a classic grilled cheese sandwich (made with grown-up cheese like emmenater, for example), cut it into bite-sized pieces, and dip it in a tomato-based fondue. Make the theme as whimsical and creative as you’d like!
Rather than putting all the food out at one time, create a more formal dinner feel by creating courses. Create appetizer, main dish, and dessert courses. For example, serve veggies with a classic cheese fondue as an appetizer, then a beef dish with a flavorful broth, and finally a dessert course with chocolate fondue, fruit and marshmallows. This way, you can introduce more than one type of fondue and keep a dinner party feel without all the fuss.
While some of your guests may be familiar with fondue etiquette, it makes everything easier and less awkward if you review the rules of fondue with everyone. This way, you avoid the ever-embarrassing double-dipper, or cross contamination with raw meat and raw vegetables. Hey, it happens to the best of us, so do your guests a favor and give them specific guidelines. You don’t have to sound like a schoolmarm, though. Ask your friends to share various faux pas that come to mind when they think of fondue. You could even make a game out of it and award a prize to the individual or team who comes up with the best list of do’s and don’ts. When you are serving multiple types of fondue, a great way to incorporate learning proper etiquette is using a musical chairs mentality. Come up with a fun way to move guests around to different stations so they can learn how to eat various fondues properly.
While it may be tempting to make a large batch of your fondue, it isn’t always the best idea, especially when it comes to cheese or chocolate fondue. If you make too much and it sits in the pot too long, the heat will cause the fondue to burn or curdle. Not ideal for your fonduers! Rather than doubling your recipe to make sure you have enough for everyone, simply make another batch when needed. Make sure your ingredients are ready to go so that the preparation doesn’t take too long.
With some planning and creativity, you can easily throw a unique and memorable fondue party, even at the last minute. Don’t be afraid to have fun and think outside the box! What are your favorite ideas for fondue?
Rachael White is the author of the blogs Set the Table and Tokyo Terrace. After four years of living, eating, and entertaining in Tokyo, Japan, she and her family have relocated to Denver, Colorado. Rachael is constantly searching for new ways to make entertaining easier and more interesting for guests in a variety of environments and situations. In addition to food blogging, her recipes have been published in cookbooks including Foodista Best of Food Blogs and Peko Peko: A Charity Cookbook for Japan and in Japan’s Daily Yomiuri newspaper. Originally from Minnesota, Rachael strives to recreate recipes and settings that reflect Midwestern comfort with a modern twist.