Disruptive Restaurant Group, a subsidiary of sbe, recently opened their fourth location of Cleo in L.A. LIVE, with a menu that features a blend of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine created by Executive Chef Danny Elmaleh. The space, formerly occupied by the Farm of Beverly Hills, can accommodate approximately 250 people and serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With that many seats, Elmaleh knows how to prepare a proper dinner service. Here, he share his tips for throwing the perfect autumnal dinner party for any group—big or small.
Cleo L.A. LIVE seats approximately 250 people. What’s one tip you have when planning a dinner party that is on the larger side? DANNY ELMALEH: Prepping in advance is the most important [tip]. You want to make sure that you are creating dishes that can be refrigerated or frozen to eliminate unnecessary prep work. For example, if you want to make fresh pumpkin ravioli, you prep the filling and make the hand-made pasta days in advance and freeze the final product. Then, all you have to do is drop them into boiling water the day of your event and serve.
What is one item you must have at an autumnal dinner party? DE: I don’t think that there is one specific item you must have, but selecting seasonal is key. For example mushrooms, squash, and root vegetables are great ingredients for fall, and you can add heirloom carrots and beets for color. Don’t forget to incorporate seasonal fruit as well. Citrus, apples, and pears add a fresh twist to any dish.
Where is the best place to buy these seasonal items in LA? DE: The best place to look for seasonal ingredients is your local farmer’s market. The second best place is Whole Foods.
What seasonal items are currently in the dishes at Cleo L.A. LIVE? DE: At Cleo, we have a roasted mushroom dish and a vegetable tagine, which is ever changing and always features fresh vegetables that are in season.
What is a great autumnal cocktail to feature at a dinner party? DE: Any classic cocktail with a seasonal twist! Cleo L.A. LIVE has a Mediterranean Margarita with fig-almond syrup instead of regular simple syrup. It doesn’t take a lot to make a cocktail seasonal and you can’t go wrong with a classic. A piece of advice—batch your cocktails in advance and use pitchers so you simply need to pour over ice. Try not to serve anything too strong. It needs to be light and fresh so it’s easy to drink.
What about a favorite side dish for an autumn dinner party? DE: As for side dishes, couscous is my favorite. It’s versatile and absorbs flavor quickly. It also soaks up all the juices from the other ingredients on your plate, which is the best part.