How To Host An Epic Outdoor Feast | sheerluxe.com
When it comes to outdoor feasting, there are two tribes: Those who bring a packet of M&S sarnies and a pot of humous, and those who go all out armed with a cooler bag filled with English fizz and artisan delights. Of course, dining alfresco is as influenced by the weather as the food. We’ve called on the pros to reveal how they host a show-stopping spread in the great outdoors.
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THE CORNISH BEACH BARBECUERS

Rick and Katie Toogood, owners of critics-favourite Prawn on the Lawn in Islington & Padstow reveal how to create alternative BBQ delights.

Best spot for al fresco dining: “We love a barbecue at Tregirls beach. It’s walking distance from Padstow and on a sunny day the sand is so white it feels like you’re in the Caribbean.”

Tips to wow guests: “Mackerel barbecued whole in foil, rubbed in North African spices is a quick and easy winner. Also try scallops cooked on the barbecue in their shells - served with soy, sesame, garlic and ginger.  Try wrapping lobster in seaweed. Cook over the coals with harissa butter - the seaweed effectively steams the lobster then it can be split open and topped with the butter. “

THE GARDEN PARTY EXPERT

Entrepreneur Alex Head is founder and chef of Social Pantry catering company.

Best spot for al fresco dining: “A gorgeous space at Pitzhanger Manor where we’ve hosted open-air dinners. Think 1920’s style hedonism with fairy light canopies, cocktails and a sharing style dinner.”

Tips to wow guests: “I love the versatility of roasting a chicken, organic and corn fed is best (not only is it more ethical and sustainable, but it’ll taste SO much better). Stuff with a whole lemon, and marinade with lemon juice, seasonal herbs like thyme, rosemary and olive oil.” 

GO MEXICAN FOR A VIBRANT FIX

Thomasina Miers chef and co-founder of Wahaca reveals what’s on her trellis table.

Best spot for al fresco dining: “When I was filming ‘A Cook’s Tour of Spain’ for Channel 4, I went Percebes fishing (percebes are a rare delicacy) with a bunch of Spanish women in their 50s and 60s, who were fantastic. That evening Guy Grieve and I built a fire on the rocks off the stunning Galician coastline. We simmered the fish in a cauldron of seawater, while a bottle of Albariño chilled in a nearby rock-pool. We ate like kings.” 

Tips to wow guests: “Gather seasonal vegetables and grill them. Then forage for herbs and either bash them together and create a makeshift salsa verde in a pestle and mortar. I’ve just created a wonderful roast tomato salsa, with fresh chilies and lime for Wahaca so I’d also suggest making a charred salsa, Mexican style, in a pan on the fire with tomatoes, garlic and chillies.”

And don’t forget, like most things, it’s the little extras that count…

  • The camping stalwart ALWAYS bring fairy lights (ideally solar powered), imparting a rustic but convivial ambience in the evening
  • Cut sweetpeas or wildflowers just before fully open and pop in a jar for the table. 
  • Prep your icebox. Line your box with blocks of ice and cool your drinks first, or invest in an electric cool box.
  • Don’t forget the condiments. Michelin chef Tom Kerridge has a new range of handmade ketchups (from £4.75, buy here) that make the perfect accompaniment to an outdoor feast. Flavours include Virgin Mary, Chipotle Barbecue, Black Garlic, Fruity Brown and Gherkin. 

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