Everywhere people are planning parties, ethnic or traditional, or just having a few friends over to the house.

What a great way to enjoy life, for everyone … well, almost everyone. When was the last time you invited a chef over to the house for dinner or a party without hesitating because so and so is a chef, feeling as though they may not like the food you cook or the way it was prepared?

I want to make a formal statement for all chefs around the world. We really appreciate it when others cook for us. We know what it takes to prepare food and how hard that task may become when you are under pressure.

This concept is not new; it has been going on for hundreds of years. The following is a menu from the 13th century of one family that had their own chef and was trying to impress another family during the holidays.

The first course consisted of capon with cinnamon broth, chicken with herbs and venison followed by a second course of roast beef, peacocks and capon pies. Partridge stewed pigeons and venison pâté made up the third course, and the meal was topped off with sugared tarts and pastries for dessert. There were also trick pies, which, when opened, released live birds (four and 20 black birds baked in a pie).

Taste of the times was on the sweet side, what we would call syrupy. This was to cover the salted gamy taste of the meat and poultry.

Today we still try to put our best foot forward by always preparing dishes we have developed by using the same ingredients, the same measurements and by cooking in our own oven (only we know what temperature it really cooks at), and finally by family, friend and neighbors tasting.

What most people do not realize is chefs follow the same procedure to develop their favorite dishes – what we call signature dishes, which have been tested and tested until they become standard recipes just as you do at home. Some of my favorite meals were prepared by grandmothers; they are not afraid of anyone and they have been developing and preparing their recipes for years, sometimes being handed down from one generation to the next.

So, invite a chef over for dinner. You can make us happy by cooking a family meal. My all-time favorite is meatloaf and mashed potatoes, anytime. So, whenever we are lucky enough to get an invitation to someone’s home, we are always treated to the greatest food in the world.

Remember, we love food and our true joy comes from seeing others enjoying our labor. That is why we make the best guests in world. Just thought you’d like to know. Here is a recipe to share with them to show them how easy it is to cook.

White Chocolate Bread Pudding - Ingredients

1 loaf white bread cut the crust off (substitute 8 glazed donuts for the bread – Wow! Really good)

4 ounces unsalted butter

16 ounces white chocolate

2 cups whole milk

2 cups half and half cream

2/3 cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

8 each large fresh eggs

1 cup Amaretto


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Cut bread or donuts into small pieces -- 1 inch. Place in a two-quart baking dish or pan. Combine sugar, milk, cream, white chocolate and butter in saucepan, and cook on stove at medium heat. Stir often and watch closely. When chocolate and sugar are melted, and the milk is hot, set aside and let cool.

Break eggs in a bowl and mix well, add the semi warm milk mixture quickly and mix well. Add vanilla extract and stir well. Pour milk mixture over the bread or donuts. Let stand for five minutes. Take two forks and mash bread or donuts to help incorporate the milk mixture. Bake at 300 to 325 degrees F for about 45 minutes or until the custard sets and gets golden brown. When the pan is gently shaken, the mixture should seem like set gelatin. If it is watery, it will need to cook more.

Costa Magoulas is dean of the Mori Hosseini College of Hospitality and Culinary Management at Daytona State College. Contact him at (386) 506-3578 or costa.magoulas@daytonastate.edu.

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