Tips from the experts for a backyard barbecue party that will leave people talking
“An Aces Event is all about the prep work. It’s about the people you bring together: friends, teams, or even a community.” Chuck Francisco is a film host at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville and a Master of Ceremonies for Swing Kat Entertainment. He’s been involved in putting on monthly horror screenings at the historic theater in Phoenixville, PA, and locally famous perennial events such as BlobFest and Blob Ball. Whether it’s a BBQ party or a Halloween bash, he knows something about pleasing the crowd. “Mapping out all the minutia in advance is what allows your events this ability to feel authentic and organic- and what will have people reminiscing about it years from now.”
Plan out your BBQ party: the meals, music, decor, where the food will go, when it will need to go on the grill or out of the smoker. Getting all of this down on paper ahead of time will make the day of the event go much smoother, and you’ll be less stressed.
Some resources to help you keep track of everything:
– Facebook Events: if your entire guest list is active on Facebook, this will be the easiest tool to keep track of RSVPs and message all of your guests
– eVite: know who’s coming, who’s not. Great if you have people you’re inviting who don’t have or use Facebook
BBQ Party Food
This is the centerpiece of the BBQ party, it’s raison d’etre. Planning this feast ahead of time will make you less stressed while working the fire or running between your grill and the kitchen, and leave you more time to mingle with your guests.
A good guide for the flow of the meal:
Appetizer (either ready to go when guests arrive, or just pulling it off the fire)
Main Course: 2 meats, 1 veggie, 2 sides (this will cover just about every taste palet there)
Dessert (either go simple, like ice cream and grilled pound cake, or make it a presentation, like a grilled apple crisp)
Whatever you can make ahead of time, do. Sides are usually in this category. This will leave you time to concentrate on the main course, where your attention should be. A BBQ party should center around great food and great friends…checking this off your list will make it easier to enjoy both.
Food Network has a calculator that will help you estimate how much you need to buy.
Do Something Cool
To truly elevate your BBQ party, you need to add a cool factor. Depending on your skill level working the fire, maybe it’s as simple as cooking steaks caveman style right on the coals, or maybe as complex as cooking a whole hog. Whatever your comfort level is, make sure to include something like this to push your simple backyard BBQ into the territory of an Event. This will give your guests something to talk about, and have them looking forward to the next time.
– Caveman Steaks: cook the steaks directly on the coals
– Carne Asado: cooking Argentinian style with your food staked around an open pit
– Smoked Cocktails: a simple touch that elevates the drinks
– Smoked Meat: a simple approach, but the smell from the smoker will have your guests salivating
– Burger Bar: offer your guests a slew of different, sometimes off-beat toppings (like peanut butter and jelly…no seriously, it’s a thing) and offer a prize to whomever comes up with the most creative (and yet still edible) burger
– Hot Sauce Bar: offer an array of hot sauces of varying degrees of burn
– Whole Hog: not for the faint of heart. This takes skill and patience.
BBQ Party Music
“Cater to the crowd,” says The Quixote Project’s Jeff Selby, who’s musical tastes run from Bob Segar to A Tribe Called Quest. “But you can never go wrong with the iree vibes of Bob Marley at a cook out!”
Let it Ride
A final note of advice from Chuck Francisco: “Pick a place, buy supplies, set the tone, and then step back to allow an amazing shindig the space to evolve naturally.”