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A New Cookbook Revives the Lost Art of Cooking for a Crowd

Dinner, for 20, is served.

It is something of a cliché, especially during these turbulent times, to say that food brings people together. But it is also true, as the San Francisco–based cookbook editor Leslie Jonath writes in the introduction to Feed Your People, that “just saying you are serving paella”—or porchetta, or a big pot of tender carnitas—at your home is liable to draw a crowd.

These days, however, preparing a meal for upwards of 20 people is something of a lost art, which makes this collection of big-batch recipes an especially handy resource. Written in collaboration with the Mission district nonprofit cooking school 18 Reasons—whose monthly $10 community dinners are the very definition of cooking for a crowd done gracefully and affordably—and released in July by PowerHouse Books, Feed Your People includes a recipe for a slab pie, baked in a sheet pan, that’ll serve 24 and a shrimp-and-crab-boil recipe (which suggests that you purchase hot sauce by the quart at a wholesale club) that can feed up to 20.

The book draws on the wisdom of some of the Bay Area’s most famous chefs: Here is Alice Waters’s recipe for minestrone; here are the secrets to Tanya Holland’s legendary cornmeal waffles. But perhaps Jonath’s most practical insight is this: Whether you host a Nepalese momo–wrapping party or a chili cook-off, cooking with your people, and not just feeding them, can offer the biggest rewards of all. 

 

Originally published in the August issue of San Francisco

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