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A DIY guide to partying

Zoya Akhtar says, 'Shilarna and her husband Chris make party evenings special with their delicious food, and that their 'Gaia Gourmet' is the first call I make when I want to celebrate'. Shilarna Vaze, chef and founder of Gaia Gourmet, who has cooked for the best parties and biggest stars in Bollywood, brings together recipes, tips and photos from actual parties thrown by Bollywood stars and big brands in her book, 'Party Like a Star'.

From the picking a theme for your party, to what kind of menu, décor, planning and extent of professional help needed, and even the music needed for the kind of party you plan to throw – small and intimate, brunch, buffet and cocktail party, high tea, brand events, kids party, weddings, landmark occasions and festivals, are all explained with clarity. While throwing a party is much more than reading a book, Chef Shilarna's book is surely a go-to-guide to begin with.

One of the most important part of planning a party are your lists – the menu, invitees list, things you would need – it is thoughtful indeed of the author to include the lists and templates you will need, guidelines on dealing with your planners. She has also included expert advice and experiences of the people who threw parties to help us gain some inputs, especially when we plan bigger dos.

She says Pinterest and MasterChef changed the party game. 'Entertaining at home has never been as detailed and through-out as it is now. As caterers to the rich and famous in Mumbai, we know the meticulous detailing that goes into party planning. Theme, location, cuisine, ingredients, décor, flowers, furniture, lighting, serving platters and dishes, crockery and cutlery, table setting, seating arrangements, invitations, party favours, games, music, waiters and bartenders…the list is never-ending. We have had clients who have sent private planes to buy ingredients; designers who dressed the waiters in their finest creations; brands that have redesigned locations just for one night; and women who have had nervous breakdowns while planning a party.'

We all know it isn't an easy business. Planning a party is surely stressful and nerve wrecking, and having an expert spell out the steps and aspects of planning a party like a celeb will 'equip you, in the best way, to entertain with ease….I will help you navigate the maze of all the boxes you need to tick, whether it's on your own or working with caterers, event planners and stylists,' she promises.

In addition to the Dos there are quite a lot of Don'ts that one must heed to while planning a party, and when you read about hosting a party, you will read about what you must avoid as well. For example, when planning a small and intimate do, you must keep it simple. She says one must not plan the menu in such a way that you end up slogging in the kitchen while you friends are out there having all the fun, and you miss it all. 'Make sure that you have only one or two dishes that need to be cooked during the party,' is one of her many practical and effective tips.

The book 'Party Like a Star' is about recipes, and guidelines, and it is also about interesting stories churned out from the author's experiences as a party host and a caterer, anecdotes, case studies which are for people to learn from but also are a bit like party gossip like what happened to whom. In addition, celebrity menus – for Sonam Kapoor's birthday, Lemon baby shower menu for Mira Kapoor, Riaan's Sailor birthday party menu for Genelia and Ritesh Deshmukh spice up this expansive guide to fine parties.

- Rajeshwari Kalyanam

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