Entertaining is not only my business but also my hobby. Even though we serve
10,000 people a week at our restaurants, I still enjoy dreaming up the perfect meal for
friends and family at home. I came by this attitude early. Every meal at my folks’ house
was a party. That is, if you consider cooking for a minimum of 10, three times a day, a
party. When relatives, neighbors and “special friends” were added in, the family table
was often extended to accommodate 20. (You can see that my folks are naturals for
big-volume shopping the Costco warehouse way.)
My mom and grandmas are all good cooks. Despite my own reputation as a
“fancy” restaurant chef, my heart has always belonged to home cooking. While working on my cookbook, Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen, I often called up my mom to ask
her to dig out recipes from her food-stained, yellowing card file.
A family favorite was her famous blue crab dip. Crab of any sort was a “special
occasion” treat in our house. The “taste memory” of sweet blue crab meat, chopped
hard-boiled eggs and her Thousand Island dressing, zesty with cherry peppers, makes
me want to call up my clan and invite them over for a family feast. That’s why I love a
book like Entertaining the Costco Way, where Costco’s food suppliers and people’s
moms, dads, nieces, nephews, cousins and best friends share their favorite recipes—the
recipes people really treasure and cook for themselves at home. The fact that each of
these recipes includes an item or two you can find at Costco is an added treat.
The truth is, when my wife, Jackie, and I stroll through Costco, each with our own
shopping cart, we rarely have a meal plan for that night’s dinner. Instead we roam the
aisles looking for whatever’s in season, like spring strawberries, summer peppers or
fresh-crop fall apples. Typical Costco commodities like Penn Cove mussels, Angus beef
and big bags of ruby-red grapefruit are always tempting. Finally, there are the “can’t
pass it up” super bargains like fat tiger prawns or beautifully trimmed racks of lamb.
Then, out of the blue, real inspiration strikes—enormous packages of baby back
ribs calling out to me. They say, “Why don’t you grab a couple bottles of wine,
call some friends, fire up the grill and have a party?” Of course I oblige this moment
of fate, this tryst with an inanimate object, and fill out my basket with fragrant
tomatoes, sweet corn and plump cabbages for slaw. With Entertaining the
Costco Way, you’ll find yourself dreaming, plotting and filling up your basket
for your own feast with friends and family.
Seattle restaurateur and author