The Good Enough Entertainer: Cooking with Rick Nichols

Scene 1.
Steve sits at his desk working diligently on the several hundred things that still need to get done before books are shipped on Friday, the new web shop and companion website launches, the upcoming Free Library event’s presentation planned….

Ring. Ring.
Steve: “Hello.”
Rick: “Rick Nichols here. I’d like to come over and cook with the maestro. How’s Friday?” Something about a deadline.
Steve: “Friday.” (Gulp!) “Sure, Rick. Friday’s great.”

I’m sure you all know Rick as the renown Philadelphia Inquirer columnist whose lively and informative writing can be found every Thursday and Sunday in the Inquirer. Rick has seen it all. Rick thinks creating this informal milieu will be a better way of conducting an interview than just sitting at a table. Rick’s very good…except I’m the one that has to create the milieu!

Screen shot 2009-10-07 at 11.49.11 PM

We all suffer from entertaining anxiety. Even me. Cooking with Rick Nichols is not something I do every day. In fact, I have never cooked with Rick Nichols…though I have cooked for Rick Nichols. But I reminded myself of two important “lessons” from At Home.

The first is the notion of The Good Enough Entertainer.  The opening page of the introduction begins with a short paragraph about me and is followed by this:

A Good-Enough Entertainer
This book and its companion website, At Home Online, are filled with practical ways to make you a better home entertainer. There are wonderful recipes, information to expand your culinary horizons, and tips to make you a better cook and set a nicer table. But here’s the most important advice I have to offer: Home entertaining is about creating a sense of welcome, warmth and hospitality for your guests. It’s not about how good the food is or how beautifully the table is set. It’s not the culinary Olympics or Iron Chef meets Main Street. It’s about human connection and good conversation. Whatever you do to welcome friends and family into your home is good enough. So relax. Plan. Make an effort. Care. But just do it. You’re already a good-enough entertainer.

So, I reminded myself that regardless of how well the food turns out, what counts will be the welcome, warmth and hospitality I provide Rick. Really, the food’s secondary. (And this from someone who cares passionately about food.)

Second, I reminded myself that I have lots of planning tools in Part 1: Plan to Entertain that I can use to think this through. Planning to Entertain…even Rick Nichols, is a logical process. So, I went to my computer and printed out the planning  tools I created that constitute Part 1’s  Step-by-Step Guide. I sat down with Step 1: The Consultation and began my Plan to Entertain Rick Nichols.

More tomorrow about my Plan to Entertain Rick Nichols.

Update on book shipping: In my last blog I said that we planned to ship books today. Well, we missed by one day. Books will ship Friday and depending on where you live, books will begin arriving on Monday.

Screen shot 2009-10-07 at 11.45.19 PM

Free Library Plans: I will be speaking all about At Home — book and companion website — at the Free Library on Thursday, October 15 beginning at 7:30 PM. After providing a quick overview of the book and companion website, I will select someone from the audience with a party they would like to plan. I will lead them through the simple planning process that is Part 1 of At HomeAt Home with At Home Online will be available for sale. It is a good way for you do early holiday shopping and save on shipping.

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