Ask the Barefoot ContessaBY INA GARTEN Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch Ina on the Food Network's Barefoot Contessa or visit her Website, www.barefootcontessa.com. (PHOTO: QUENTIN BACON) I invited my boss to dinner at my house, and now I'm thinking, what have I done? How would you handle a big dinner like this? Recently I found myself at a dinner party seated next to the head of a big company. After my initial panic about what we
would talk about, we started talking about dinner parties in general. He told me that the worst parties he goes to are given by people who work for him, because they're trying so hard to impress him. He said, first he feels as though they've spent their annual salary on the dinner, and second, they're always apologizing for everything: the house isn't done, the food isn't hot enough, the beef should be pinker, the dog is whiffy, the kids are fighting. We can all understand how uncomfortable that would be.
At the end of the day, everyone — even a CEO — just wants simple, delicious food and good, relaxed conversation. I would avoid the usual filet of beef dinner. I would show that I have the confidence to make a homey roast chicken with carrots and potatoes, or turkey meat loaf with mashed potatoes. Or try something a little messy, like fried chicken, which will loosen up everybody. And if you ask your boss lots of questions about how he got where he is, he'll think you're the most interesting person in the room.