My friend Lynn is a genius.
Lynn is a fabulous cook, who often (if not always) enjoys cooking. But she (like the crabbier cooks among us) has a family that can be annoying to feed. She told me that, during one especially gnarly phase, her son was a vegan, her older daughter was a pescatarian and her toddler would eat nothing but white toast. Lynn herself is fond of lamb chops, so her dinner hour was often a three-ring circus.
Then she had this brilliant idea: Guest Chef Night. In recent years, on a regular basis, Lynn has been able to convince her single friends to come over and cook for her family. She sells it to them as the most fun activity anyone could experience, and they believe her. They come over, even bringing the necessary groceries, and experience the joy of cooking for a squad of picky eaters.
I don’t know how she talks them into this. Maybe it’s just her considerable charm, or maybe there’s hypnosis involved. But, in the same way that Tom Sawyer conned his friends into painting a picket fence, she makes the event seem so attractive that nobody can refuse. I don’t think I could get away with this, since I revealed my family’s food foibles in print. If I tried to tell someone how much fun they would have cooking for my family, they’d know I was bullshitting.
On a recent Guest Chef Night, in a masterful act of cooking avoidance, Lynn went all out and invited five friends to a chili bake-off at her house, to which they were each required to bring a pot of their favorite chili. She lazed away the evening, reclining by the fire while people brought her tasting samples and freshened her martini. There was a type of chili to please each of her picky kids, and leftovers for days.
I know what you’re thinking. Click here for some chili recipes for your Guest Chefs.