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Sunday Social

Beefed-Up Plates on the Menu


The hungry holidays have come and gone. But appetites will continue to chew their way through 1998. And based on what several notable caterers are dishing out, the new year has christened a new champ for the chops: beef.

Yep, chicken is all but extinct, and for those of you who have been asking for years, "Where's the beef?" well, just take a look--and then devour--the chow (preferably prime rib) served up at that next party.

Here's what several caterers say will spill over onto party plates in the coming year.

* Deirdre Sullivan of Deirdre Sullivan Catering & Event Planning:

"Beef is the thing people are asking for. It's the biggest-selling ticket right now. We did a party where we had beef skewers served with a sweet and spicy Thai sauce. We also did our take on traditional beef dishes by altering them a bit to make them more ethnic. People want beef because it's one of those comfort foods that Mom used to make on Friday night when you were a kid."

Also big on Sullivan's list: grilled cheese sandwiches made with home-baked sourdough bread and cheese layered with caramelized onions and topped with cilantro.

"People want these types of foods because they like nostalgia and it makes them happy."

* Mary Micucci, owner of Along Came Mary:

"People go for traditional comfort foods during the holidays, and we did all of that, but I like to do tradition with a twist such as a yams and apples au gratin," which she will continue to offer.

Other faves: seared ahi, seared white fish carpaccio and Japanese yellow-tail carpaccio served with a ginger miso or a coconut Thai sauce. Also, roasted baby racks of lamb and filet mignon.

* Hallee Gould, owner of Somerset Caterers:

"People are wanting to eat a lot of meat, especially prime rib. When someone is carving a beautiful tenderloin or prime rib, people will eat it. They're thinking, 'It's a party, and I can have this wonderful roast beef sandwich. I deserve it because I don't eat it every day.' "

"We're also doing a lot of handmade raviolis. And lots of macaroni and cheese, but I do my thing with it by using three different cheeses. That way it becomes an unusual nouvelle mac and cheese."

Shrimp, crab and smoked salmon and other fish, including escolar, sturgeon and abalone topped with scallops, will remain popular.

"People are tired of chips and dips at parties. No cheese boards in '98," says Gould, who also predicts that fewer sweets will be eaten this year. "In the past people used to stuff themselves at the end of a party with sweets. I'm seeing less of that."

* August Papa, executive chef and co-owner of A&E Catering Co.:

Roast beef, he echoes. "But people want something different with their meat--tradition with a twist--so I suggest stuffing the roast with grilled vegetables that have been marinated in a balsamic glaze. Then I serve it with a sauce made with three different types of stock, including a demi-glaze made with Madero wine and then I flavor all that with cranberries. Those are the kinds of things that people are wanting--food with soul and depth.

"They want hot food. They want grilled vegetables instead of crudites, they want warm cobbler and bread puddings instead of brownies. Of course, the food should never be the focus of a party; it should be a good complement to the party. And these days, comfort cuisine is that complement."

* Barry Colman, owner and president of More Than a Mouthful Inc.

"People are asking for a lot of tenderloin and prime rib. Chicken is out, out, out.

"I've also noticed that people are overworked on the idea of health-conscious food. They are sick of crudites. They are going for hot foods like mashed potatoes. But they want flavored mashed potatoes--potatoes with roasted shallots, roasted garlic or mustard."

Other hits: macaroni and cheese served with a white sauce made with milk and roux, topped with more cheese. Also popular are manicotti, lasagna and "rich stuff like Alfredo sauces."

Colman's next trend prediction?

"Spicier foods. World foods. More Italian, Thai, Middle Eastern foods, lots of curry.

"And ostrich."


"Sure," says Colman, "because it's 97% lean" and, duh, "it tastes like beef."

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