Entertaining: Theme Parties and Pie Socials

NYC has just opened another "single food" restaurant. Totally Baked, serving only baked potatoes, joins restaurants like S'mac (only mac n' cheese), Peanut Butter and Co. (peanut butter creations), and Rice to Riches (rice pudding).

These niche restaurants convince customers that though they only do one thing, they do it really well. Each of them takes a basic, well-loved ingredient, and uses it as an opportunity for creativity in toppings, mix-ins, and other recipes.

All the buzz around Totally Baked's opening has us thinking about that classic niche party, the Pie Social, and all its delicious variations.

These food-themed parties are best as potlucks. Tell everyone the theme, and then let them get creative. It's like a cook-off without all the competition. (Okay, perhaps without all the overt competition.)

They don't have to be potlucks of course. A chili party could serve your three favorite recipes, along with a wide variety of toppings so guests can customize.

As we said, the classic example is a pie social, perfect for a summer party in the backyard. Tell guests to bring their favorite pie, sweet or savory. Non-baking friends can bring drinks or ice cream as accompaniment.

But theme parties aren't limited to just pie. Have a mac n' cheese party where everybody brings their favorite variation. (Serve plenty of salad to balance all that heavy food!) If you've got foodie friends, an ice cream social will allow everyone to show off what they're mixing up. And, you can choose a theme ingredient, such as summer tomatoes, then allow everyone to choose their own way of fixing them, and showing off their beauty.

After the Saveur butter issue, we were even considering having a butter party. We'd ask baking friends to bring a loaf of bread, serve 6 or 7 different gourmet butters, and then make something light for a "main course."

Image: See-ming Lee

1 Comment