Everything you need to make everyday entertaining a flawless reality!
There are few moments in life as special as gathering around a table with friends and family. But for many people, the idea of planning a dinner party can bring on stress. There’s the menu, the seating plan, the drinks . . . it can lead a would-be-host to miss the point altogether: enjoying time with your guests. As the owners of a leading event management and catering company, Sebastien and Sheila Centner know that entertaining can be overwhelming. With their first book, Eatertainment, they share their decades of expertise to make entertaining at home as simple as can be.
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry—Seb and Sheila offer instructions on everything from setting the table, to picking flowers for your center-piece, to even planning an easy loot bag for your guests to take home. The Centners understand that cost and time are often the most significant barriers to hosting, so they offer practical tips and tricks regardless of your prep time, availability, or budget.
Boasting more than 140 recipes, Eatertainment includes thoughtfully-assembled menus based on tried and true recipes that anyone can cook. A memorable celebration requires a memorable meal, and no one knows this better than Seb and Sheila. In Eatertainment, the chapters are organized around 12 different events you can plan, and divided by 3 difficulty levels: Simple Entertaining to start, A Little More Effort when you’re ready for the next challenge, and Pulling Out All the Stops for the experts. You can start off your entertaining journey with an easy but impressive Cocktail Party, then graduate to the classic family favorite of a Roast Chicken Dinner, and tackle a Seafood Extravaganza for a special occasion.
No matter what kind of event you throw, you’ll find everything you need to host a stress-free gathering all year round, in this beautifully photographed, all-in-one entertaining guidebook.
About the authors
Rarely a day passes where Sebastien + Sheila Centner aren’t hosting friends, family, or clients. Sebastien is the founder and creative director of Eatertainment, one of North America’s largest and most respected event planning and catering companies, while Sheila leads content development and strategy for Eatertainment and its related companies. Together they share their love of entertaining through their social media accounts, television appearances, and their Seb + Sheila collaborative blog and social feed. They have been called serial entertainers for good reason, as their creativity in planning unique event experiences and developing simple but delicious menus comes naturally to them, whether entertaining a few friends at home or a few thousand guests at one of Eatertainment’s events!
Excerpt: Eatertainment: Recipes and Ideas for Effortless Entertaining (by (author) Sebastien Centner & Sheila Centner)
There’s a story that we love to tell new friends about how we met, almost 27 years ago. This introduction couldn’t possibly accommodate that entire story, especially the way Sebastien tells it, but it sets the backdrop for how we have built our lives and our business and for the passion we try to put into everything we do, like this book, so we’ll condense it to a few simple sentences.
It involved a bunch of friends, a club in Toronto, about 60 shooters (not just for us two, of course), and then a lunch and dinner the next day. We’ve been together ever since. A week after we met, we moved in together, about a month after that we were engaged, and less than one year later, two very young 23- and 24-year-olds tied the knot in the backyard of Sebastien’s parents’ home. our friends and family thought we were making a mistake, but we both knew there was something special between us.
Seb is the romantic-pragmatic character in this story, always happy to share how he knew on that first night that we would be together forever. The logic he shared with those who questioned this monumental decision was: you don’t marry someone because you think they’ll make a good wife or a good mom— you marry someone you can’t live without, because that is what will keep the passion alive and get you through the tough times every couple eventually faces.
Sheila is the fun-loving yet matter-of-fact character in this story, always ready to crank up the music, pour everyone a glass of rosé, and set things in motion for a memorable night, even if it happens to be a school night. She has a few favorite sayings that sum up who she is: “If not now, then when?” refers to her ability to look on the bright side of life, regardless of the situation. She is committed to helping those around her achieve happiness and success, and won’t let anything stand in her way. When anyone does try to get in her way or present an unsolveable challenge, her response is always, “That sounds like a ‘you’ problem.”
While completely different in so many ways, we are always 100% aligned when it comes to our family, our boys, and our support for one another. This has been our formula for a successful marriage and the foundation on which we have built our businesses over the past two decades.
The best way to understand our approach to life is to watch us host a dinner party. It’s a bit like a dance, with each of us always knowing where the other one is (Seb is refilling wine glasses and Sheila is putting the main course in the oven). We come together (as we greet our guests with trays of welcome cocktails and take their coats) and move apart (as Sheila heads to the wine cellar to grab the next bottle of wine and Seb clears the plates from the first course), but we always end up side by side by the end of the evening. We absolutely love to enter- tain, and bringing people together over a great meal gives us tremendous joy. Neither of us is quite sure how we ended up with a similar passion for entertaining, but we’re sure that we feed off each other, and that makes hosting a lot easier.
When people join us at home, they often comment on how they could never host like we do—but they couldn't be more wrong! What we do is neither rocket science nor unachievable. It is simply a little measure of planning, a sprinkling of teamwork, and a good dose of joie de vivre. That's the recipe for great entertaining—along with perhaps a glass or two of rosé!
But the truth is that hosting wasn’t always easy for us and we weren’t always that good at it. Like anything worthwhile in life, it took a lot of hard work. We failed lots of times. We had many nights where dinners were so badly burned that we had to order in. We ran out of alcohol one New Year’s Eve while at a remote cottage. And there were many times we had to do the dishes with Mr. Clean (Seb’s mother may not have had him do the dishes often enough when he was growing up). But we learned from each failure, and from each sub- sequent gathering we built our repertoire of go-to tips, tricks, and recipes that would eventually become the foundation of our entertaining arsenal.
Of course, even now, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns—for example, when Sheila sticks to her habit of wanting to clean up every last dish (and then Swiffer) after the guests have left, no matter the time, or when Seb says he wants to help her with the cleanup but grumbles all the way through. . . But beneath the sparkle of the photo shoots and the frantic lifestyle that goes along with running multiple businesses, we’re still those two kids who met over a tray of shooters many years ago. We’ve learned a lot and we’ve never stopped having fun. This book is about sharing all those learnings with you so that you can entertain without suffering through the frustration that often comes along with hosting.
Sebastien’s mother, Maryvone, first inspired his love of hosting. Mavone, as she was known to her grandchildren, was the consummate French hostess, always ready to entertain a group no matter how large or small and no matter how last- minute. Her love of cooking and passion for filling her home with old and new friends made for a rotating door of dinner parties that Sebastien and his brother, olivier, were fortunate enough to enjoy when they were growing up. There was the time Mavone hosted the going-away party for a local jazz musi- cian who ended up never leaving (thus requiring a “he’s not leaving” party the following week during which Mavone ended up in the pool—fully dressed). And of course, there were the countless dinners in the south of France where her signature dame Blanche dessert became a staple not only because of how delicious it was, but also because she was able to make it even after several glasses of wine. The love of life that Mavone instilled in both of us is something we still celebrate today with the annual Eve Before The Eve holiday dinner, which was inspired by a tradition she started over four decades ago. For us, this element of tradition is how our success in sharing our love of entertaining will be measured. We imagine that, years from now, our boys, Colsen and Logan, will each have their own families and be hosting their own dinner parties. When those days come, we hope they raise their glasses to all the dinner parties and brunches they grew up with and make just as many memories of their own with their families and friends. Hopefully we even get invited to a few of them!
But hosting is not just something we do for fun. We’ve been fortunate enough to be able to pour all our passion for entertaining into our many businesses, and perhaps that’s how this book has ended up in your hands. Maybe you’ve attended one of the hundreds of Eatertainment events we host each year, or lis- tened to one of our Seb + Sheila dinner Series playlists, or happened to catch one of our TV segments or videos on social media. In any case, we hope we can show you, through our businesses and through this book, the kind of profes- sional and personal satisfaction we’ve found through entertaining, and we hope that you’re inspired to find that same passion in yourself.
Entertaining should be fun, so make sure to take a step back and enjoy every moment, because the better time you’re having, the more your guests will enjoy themselves! And don’t forget that your guests are in your home because of You, so go with the flow. If you happen to burn the main course, well, there’s always takeout.
We hope this book inspires you to call up some friends and invite them for a casual barbecue, formal dinner, or even just cocktails and pizza, because to us, the most important ingredients of any get-together are friends and family!
Seb + Sheila
“Seb and Sheila are an entertaining dynamic duo! From the stunning table settings to the delicious recipes, this beautiful book is a must-have for anyone who loves hosting and is looking for unique ideas for effortless entertaining.”