Posted September 18, 2015

How to Host an Elevated Potluck — So Easy!


Football season is back — which means even more excuses to party. If you’re like us, gathering friends for the big game means more than chips and dip. It’s an occasion to add a wow factor, without doing a lot of work. We’re talking unexpected apps, beyond-ordinary spreads, and lots of cheers. Are you ready to throw an elevated potluck?

You will be with the following three recipes at your side. They come from Kimpton chefs across the U.S. who know all about entertaining. Read on and treat your company to Eggplant Caponata, Walleye Tater Tots and Bacon Cheddar Turnovers. With a side of go-team-go, of course.

Eggplant Caponata

from Executive Chef Ethan McKee at Urbana in Washington D.C.
Serves 6-8
Enjoy it served hot as a side dish or cold with some greens as a salad or first course.


1 large eggplant (peeled and diced)
½ cup olive oil
½ cup celery (diced)
1 cup red onion (diced)
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 cups chopped peeled tomato (run through the food mill)
1 oz. sugar
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup chopped kalamata olives
2 tbsp. capers (rinsed)
¼ cup golden raisins (rehydrated in warm water)
¼ cup chopped basil
1 tsp. chili flakes


1. Heat ¼ cup of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant to the pan and sauté for 4-5 minutes and set aside.

2. In large saucepan heat ¼ cup of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the celery, onion and garlic to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes.

3. Add the tomato paste, chopped tomato, sugar, balsamic vinegar and pre-cooked eggplant to the saucepan.

4. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

5. Once the vegetables are cooked through, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Walleye Tator Tots

from Executive Chef Kris Koch at The SIX15 Room in Minneapolis


5 large Yukon gold potatoes
10-15 oz. skinless and de-boned walleye filets
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 tbsp. fresh chopped thyme
1 tsp. chili flakes
2 tbsp. quality olive oil
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs


1. Peel, medium dice, and place the potatoes in pot of water. Salt to taste and cook until tender.

2. With a hand masher, mash the potatoes until smooth (smaller lumps are okay).

3. Season the walleye filets with salt and pepper and a touch of chili flakes.

4. Place them on a lightly oiled sheet tray and bake until flakey and tender — about 5-8 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool.

5. Mix the eggs into the mashed potatoes and add your herbs.

6. When the mixture looks like it will hold together add the crumbled cooked walleye filets.

7. Take a tablespoon of the mixture and roll in the breadcrumbs and form a tater tot-sized cylinder. (You can do a tester of the mix in a small frying pan; adjust the seasoning as need and continue to roll out the mixture.)

8. They can be pan seared, baked or fried.

For the tartar sauce:

1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup pickle relish, chopped pickles, cornichons or gherkins
1 lemon, zested and juiced

1. Mix the above ingredients well.

2. If desired, add a touch of Cayenne pepper and honey to balance the flavors.


from Chef Caprial Pence at Bookstore Bar & Cafe in Seattle
Yields about 16

For the filling:

5 slices bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup cream cheese
¾ cup grated aged cheddar cheese

Also needed:

48 half sheets phyllo dough
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place the bacon in a large sauté pan. Cook over high heat until the bacon begins to crisp.

3. Add the onion and cook until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté quickly.

4. Remove from the heat and add the cream cheese and mix well. Chill then fold in the cheddar cheese.

5. To fill the turnovers, lay a sheet of phyllo on the board and brush with melted butter, top with another sheet of phyllo and brush with butter. Top with one more sheet of phyllo.

6. Place a couple of tablespoons of filling in the middle of the sheet of phyllo. Fold into a triangle then continue to fold up to the end of the dough.

7. Brush with butter and place on the sheet pan. Continue with the remaining filling and phyllo. Bake in the oven until golden brown about 15 minutes. Serve warm.


Happy potluck-ing, football fans!


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One Comment

  1. Norma Cunningham says:

    Entertaining, educational, happening BeBanging APP. Love Kimpton Hotels. Presently staying in Hotel Palomar LA.