Text by Krissa Rossbund
Photographs by Dominique Vorillon
Meet Rachel Hollis. At 28, she's already developed the skill to throw the kind of party everyone wants to attend. This L.A.-based event planner is a creative force to be reckoned with. It was her passion for parties that led her to launch her firm, Chic Events, in 2004. An entertainment industry alum, Rachel ditched big screens for party schemes, and now rolls out soirees for the likes of Disney and other big names in the business.
Recently, Rachel organized a gathering for a group of young professionals that was sophisticated in its details but without the fuss that often accompanies a formal sit-down dinner. Instead, she decided on an inventive buffet menu, offering a little of this and a little of that--a dream spread for foodies.
Unlike presentation at a formal dinner, where place settings and service are rigidly uniform, this meal gave Rachel the freedom to set her table with dishes and decorations, and arrange flatware and food in variousconfigurations for a striking look.
"Deciding what to serve early on is key to a successful buffet because then the dimensions can be figured," explains the party hostess. "There is nothing worse than a flat buffet table. Positioning plates, flatware, food, and table decorations at different heights creates interest and saves space."
At this gathering, food signs handcrafted by a local artist identify the elements of the antipasto feast, including abundant vegetables, cheeses, olives, meats, and breads. Offering guests dinner plates instead of canapé plates assured they could easily assemble and carry a full meal.
With no need to worry about blocking guests' views across a formal table, Rachel was able to give free rein to her creative floral artist for the buffet decoration. Fruit and flowers--oranges and kumquats, orchids and roses--are combined in an impressive and towering arrangement that explodes with vibrant colors and fills a tall vase in lush profusion.
A full bar seemed extravagant for the intimate party, so Rachel offered a made-to-order martini bar. Individual menus designed specifically for the event allowed guests to mark the makings they preferred for their drinks.
"A cocktail party is a great option before diving into dinner," says Rachel. "It triggers the imagination and is a great opportunity to get into the groove of hosting."