You don’t need a farm to throw a farm-to-table dinner party. Take it from our friend Peter Som, the award-winning fashion designer and culinary creator known for throwing delectable outdoor dinner parties at his Sag Harbor, NY summer home. To him, the farm-to-table experience is less about rolling fields and barn animals, and more about fresh, local produce, a welcoming tablescape, and enjoying your favorite company.
“There’s nothing more special than gathering around the table with friends in the summer, spending time together and creating great memories,” Peter says. “To me, that’s what summer is all about.”
Read on for farm-to-table dinner party ideas that’ll leave your guests feeling, in Peter’s words, “happy, contented, and full.”
“Silk a Pois” by Oscar de la Renta for Paperless Post.
Buying local goes a long way
As much as possible, Peter plans his dinner parties around what’s currently available at his local farmer’s market.
“Supporting local businesses and independently-owned shops has a ripple effect: it reduces your carbon footprint, and having unique independent businesses around creates a special, unique town center,” Peter explains. “In Sag Harbor, where I spend the summer, we’re so lucky there are so many small businesses that stock unique, special products.”
Of course, the freshness of farmer’s market produce doesn’t hurt, either.
“Buying in-season is important because you’re getting produce at its absolute peak. That means the sweetest corn, the juiciest tomatoes, the sweetest peaches. The better the produce, the less you have to do to it. Sometimes, it’s just about a glug of olive oil and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt to accentuate what’s already so delicious.”
“Farmers Market” by Happy Menocal for Paperless Post; entertaining supplies from the Paperless Post Party Shop.
What’s on the menu
Peter likes to keep his menu simple for summer. “I love serving an heirloom tomato salad with local burrata, fresh grilled corn and farro salad with lots of herbs, a big salad of local lettuces, and for sure something grilled—either chicken or scallops with lots of grilled lemon. For dessert, fresh peaches and cherries with some vanilla ice cream.”
Click here for Peter’s recipe for Pan-Seared Scallops with Corn, Tomatoes, Bacon, and Basil Coriander Oil
And for Peter’s Grilled Shrimp and Peach Panzanella recipe—served with Heirloom Tomatoes, Burrata and Lemon-Miso Vinaigrette—click here.
“Wine Salut” by The Indigo Bunting for Paperless Post; entertaining supplies from the Paperless Post Party Shop.
Pair pink wine with excellent company
Mixed drinks are lovely, but the way Peter sees it, you can’t go wrong with an icy cold glass of rosé on a hot summer’s eve—and some best friends to enjoy it with, natch.
“The most important part of a dinner party is being together with friends,” he says. “A close second is lots of chilled bottles of crisp rosé! For me, a rosé from one of the local vineyards [near his home] in the Hamptons is always a guaranteed winner. And add a few ice cubes—it’s perfectly OK! The French call it La Piscine de Rosé (translation: a pool of rosé), and who am I to argue with tradition?”
“Appelsiini” by Merimekko for Paperless Post.
Setting the scene (and table)
Peter’s love of farm-to-table extends beyond the food to his tabletop—which he fills with fresh, local bloom and unfussy linens.
“I don’t like fussy, complicated tables, so I keep it simple with large cloth napkins, trattoria-style stemless wine glasses, a table runner, and flowers in bud vases along the center of the table. Lots of farm stands and farmers markets sell seasonal bouquets—grab a few, and your tablescape is set.”
Need a little extra light when the sun starts to dip? Low candles on the table not only create ambiance, but they’re less likely to end in disaster, too. “I like to add lots of votives to my outdoor table—they’re low, and less prone to tipping over al fresco!”
And don’t forget to add a little flavor: “I always have a bunch of small pinch bowls with flaky sea salt around the table.”
(P.S. For more great outdoor table setting ideas and products, head to our Party Shop.)
“Vineyard Table” by Felix Doolittle for Paperless Post.
Nature makes for the best backdrop
Summer only lasts so long. When it comes to hosting during the warmer months, Peter’s all about keeping things en plein air.
“I’m definitely a summer person,” he says, “It’s all about spending time outdoors and enjoying the weather as much as possible. Whether it’s lunch poolside or dinner under the stars, spending time outside with friends is what I look forward to the most.”
“Let’s Get Together” Flyer by Paperless Post.
Try to plan ahead
No host wants to be cooking while the guests are there—but it’s often an unfortunate reality. Peter tries to avoid the scramble by prepping as much ahead of time as possible, and serving easy-to-assemble dishes and drinks.
“It’s summer—who wants to be stressed in the kitchen? I should enjoy the evening just as much as my guests!” he says.
“The goal is to be able to set out the cheese, uncork the wine, and put the meat or fish on the grill when the guests arrive. So I make sure the produce is washed and/or cut and the dressings and vinaigrettes are made beforehand. Grains like farro or quinoa can also be made in advance. Everything else should be able to be simply assembled and plated.”
He’s also not opposed to mixing homemade food with store-bought—especially if you’re giving business to a local store.
“No need to try and make a massive buffet from scratch. Make one dish from scratch, the second can be an easy-to-assemble situation, and the third can be store-bought and plated beautifully. Getting help from a local purveyor is always a good thing.”
Is anyone else’s mouth watering?! Now that you know all of Peter Som’s favorite farm-to-table dinner party secrets, it’s time to get your friends together with Paperless Post’s beautiful and easy-to-use dinner party invitations and summer party invitations.
Images courtesy of Peter Som.
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