If you don’t recognize Tess Rafferty from her hilarious stints on The Soup parodying everyone from Posh Spice to a giant Maxi pad, you’ve probably laughed at a joke she’s written at one point or another—she recently signed on to write Roseanne Barr’s Comedy Central Roast. But even those unfamiliar with Rafferty's work will come to love her as she chronicles her attempts at becoming the hostess with the mostess in her new book Recipes for Disaster, which hits shelves October 30.
The book is a compilation of hilarious vignettes about dinner parties gone-awry, mixed with tried-and-true recipes that she presents in a fun, approachable way. Rafferty recently caught up with Los Angeles Confidential to dish on the new book and her favorite spots to dine and perform around town.
How did you first get started hosting parties?
TESS RAFFERTY: I think I always had this image of myself as an adult having these grand salons—having the house where people came over and had interesting conversations. I’ve always really loved good wine and good food, so if we were going to have people over, it always became, ‘well what are we gonna eat, and what are we gonna serve?’
What’s one dish you don’t like cooking for dinner parties?
TR: I never do fish. Primarily because it’s something that has to be cooked at the last minute—you can’t really cook fish in oven in the hours setting up—so I never do fish. I just feel like it’s so last minute, you’re trying to entertain, and then you’re disappearing constantly into the kitchen to see if it’s ready and make sure you’re not over-cooking it because it’s easy to dry out fish, too.
What are tips for a perfect night?
TR: Get all your prepping done! Even if it seems [like it's] really early in the day, there’s always something that you can do so that you don’t have to think about it at the last minute, even if it’s just setting the table. Also find the things that you don’t have to do a lot of work to once your guests arrive. We like to do salads instead of vegetables because you can prep the salad and then just bring it to the table, and do the dressing at the very last minute because it doesn’t take any time.
Your style is so unique, how did you go about writing the recipes?
TR: I was looking to talk about [food] in a way that was a real person talking to another real person. For example, the turkey was the first recipe that I wrote for this book and they always say stick the thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh but don’t touch the bone…how the hell do you know what that is? They don’t offer up any techniques to figure out where this magical point on the turkey is, and the reality is, I’ve done it for years and I don’t know if I’ve ever found the right spot and no one’s died. [I’m] just trying to offer people a different perspective on a recipe other than what they get from professional chefs who write professional cookbooks.
What are your favorite spots in LA to perform at?
TR: I really love Public School over at M Bar (1253 N. Vine, 323-856-0036)—it’s once a month and it’s a storytelling show. There’s another show at The Actors Comedy Studio (7461 Beverly Blvd., Ste. 202, 323-302-9152) called the Pez show, and that’s the last Friday of every month. That’s great, it’s always a packed house, always a group of great performers, [and] the stories are only ten minutes so you’re not sitting there all night wondering 'when is this going to end.'
When you’re not cooking, where do you like to eat?
TR: There’s a really great restaurant in the Valley that I can’t get enough of called Ombra (3737 Cahuenga Blvd., 818-985-7337), it’s over near The Baked Potato on Cahuenga. They fly in branzino from Italy, it’s a great, friendly place. And, I don’t get there nearly enough, but when I do, I love the coq au vin at Jar (8225 Beverly Blvd., 323-655-6566).