Padma Lakshmi serves simple advice for home entertaining, interview

Padma Lakshmi for Boursin, photo provided by Boursin
Padma Lakshmi for Boursin, photo provided by Boursin /

While she has told many chefs to pack their knives and has encouraged foodies to Taste the Nation, Padma Lakshmi appreciates that the home kitchen can produce some of the most delicious and memorable dishes. The idea of gathering with friends and family is more than providing sustenance. The convivial conversation flavors the meal as much as the spices in the recipe. As the new Maison Boursin’s Host in Residence throughout 2022, Lakshmi is ready to dish on some home entertaining advice that anyone can master.

The new Maison Boursin looks to evolve the conversation around the beloved cheese. Even though the board trend has transformed how and why people enjoy cheese and its accompanying foods, the Boursin Gournay Cheese offers the versatility that home cooks crave. Beyond spreading a taste on a cracker, it flavors a variety of recipes. It is one of the reasons why Boursin is a staple in many homes.

As part of the recent announcement that appointed Lakshmi as the Maison Boursin’s Host in Residence, the culinary television personality shared her thoughts on simple home entertaining as well as some easy recipes. Even though many people are mesmerized by her social media cooking videos and crave her eloquent food descriptions on Top Chef, Lakshmi appreciates that not every gathering has to be a white tablecloth experience. As long as the company is welcoming, the food will be enjoyed.

During a conversation with FoodSided, Lakshmi shared her thoughts on entertaining, a few food staples and a recipe that anyone can master. Even though she has enjoyed some of the best dishes in the world, there is something special about a personal gathering at home.

Cristine Struble: From Top Chef to Taste the Nation, you have had the opportunity to enjoy some of the world’s best food. Is there a simple professional chef concept that a home cook can adapt in their own kitchen that can impress at their next gathering?

Padma Lakshmi: Everyone cooks at different skill levels, so I think the most important thing is just remembering that food comes from a place of love and a great meal is really about being with people you love and getting to enjoy their company and make memories together. We’ve lost that over the last few years and I’m so happy to help people reconnect over food again.

That said, I like to always recommend that you prepare dishes that really hit on a lot of different flavors and textures. For example, pull together a simple cheese board with Boursin and then add garnishes that deliver a mix of sweet and savory, as well as spicy and briny. Add a crunch with crackers or nuts and then something fresh like seasonal fruits and vegetables and you’re in great shape.

CS: Sometimes the host spends too much time in the kitchen and not enough time with guests. What suggestions do you have to get the host out of the kitchen and into the mix?

PL: I see this happen all the time when it comes to entertaining—that’s why when I’m hosting I love to plan a menu that allows for most of my food to be prepped and ready before the guests even arrive. I usually aim for about three-quarters of the food to be dishes I can make ahead of time and just finish off right before we eat. This means that I’m not in the kitchen and stressed out, which makes my guests more relaxed. I also ask my friends to help me finish any outstanding meal prep. There’s no need to take it all on yourself, and most of the time your guests are more than happy to jump in and help you finish getting ready.

CS: Recently you partnered with Boursin as its Maison Boursin’s Host in Residence. Why do you think that Boursin offers the versatility that hosts crave?

PL: I love to suggest keeping Boursin in your refrigerator at all times, because it’s so versatile. You can use it to create a variety of easy appetizers and quick meals that instantly become more elevated thanks to the creamy, crumbly texture of the cheese and the burst of flavor Boursin delivers. Even for last-minute hosting situations you can quickly pull together an amazing charcuterie board with Boursin that will impress your guests without adding a lot of time or stress.

CS: What simple recipe or dish would you recommend for the novice hostess?

PL: I just created this Boursin e Pepe pasta dish that’s based on a traditional Cacio e Pepe, and I love it because it’s so simple but tastes so rich and flavorful that it seems like something you spent a lot more time making. You can make this dish in about 15 minutes, which makes it great for intimate dinner parties, but also perfect for a weeknight meal. I made it with my daughter, and it was an instant hit in our house.

Whether it is Lakshmi’s Cacio e Pepe, Padma’s Roasted Figs au Boursin, or another simple, yet flavorful dish using Boursin, there is always a reason to use that cheese that should be on the refrigerator shelf.