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Chef Brandon Chavannes

Kimpton Sylvan Hotel’s chef shares pro tips for outdoor entertaining

Chef Brandon Chavannes

At Buckhead’s new Kimpton Sylvan Hotel, outdoor dining is the name of the game. Among the hotel’s three food and beverage concepts are two indoor-outdoor spaces, both opening this spring: Willow Bar, a garden lounge, and St. Julep, an open-air rooftop lounge. Chef Brandon Chavannes, formerly of St. Cecilia, shares his advice for effortless entertaining outdoors.

What’s important to keep in mind when setting the mood outdoors?

People naturally tend to gravitate towards one area at gatherings. If you’re entertaining outside, try to place snacks and beverages in different areas so people move around organically and mingle with one another. This will create a more relaxed environment and allow people to break away without feeling obligated to stay in the center of the goings-on the whole time.

How do you make an outdoor gathering feel special?

Roasting whole ingredients, like a fish or a large joint of meat, is a surprisingly easy way to bring a sense of occasion and drama to a backyard party.

What are some common mistakes in outdoor entertaining?

People try to do too much. Keep it simple so you have time to focus on being a good host. No matter what, there’s going to be plenty to do. Keep drinks full, introduce people to each other and even pass around a few dishes. Hosts often get sidetracked by trying to create some giant, ornate spread and consequently lose sight of the hospitality.

Any tips for those with a smaller outdoor space?

Plan and prep your menu up to a week in advance. All the little knick-knacks and tools that you need to put together a party really add up, and with all the distractions, they tend to get left lying around, cluttering your setup. When space is a premium, you want to keep extra stuff out of the way.

What types of cuisine lend themselves to outdoor dining?

Middle Eastern food is a go-to for me. Kofta, baba ganoush and other Middle Eastern staples are great for the grill and leaving out on a table to snack on. I also love making a big paella for a summer night dinner party with the perfume of saffron and pimenton lingering about.

The Kimpton Sylvan Hotel
374 East Paces Ferry Road N.E.
Atlanta 30305

BY: Claire Ruhlin

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