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Ideas Needed for Dinner Party: cooking at the table

I want to throw a dinner party where some of the cooking happens at the table. Yes, I know that's weird, but it's based on an in-joke for a friend.

Anyway, all i can come up with is fondue. Is there any there kind of at-the-table cooking I'm missing?


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  1. Quite a few years ago I ate a Japanese restaurant and while I don't remember specifics it was a huge pot of simmering broth to which we added our beef and veggies and maybe noodles (very long time ago).

    3 Replies
    1. re: jules127

      That may have been sukiyaki.

      Another Japanese style dish is yakitori, a small hibachi cooking meat/fish/poultry/veggies on a stick. Be careful with ventilation.

      1. re: Alan408

        Cooking meats, vegetables, etc. in a pot of simmering broth at the table is shabu shabu (Japanese) or Mongolian hot pot (Chinese). Yum, great for cold winter nights.

      2. re: jules127

        There are quite a few variations on this:


        It's great in winter.

      3. My father always used to make sukiyaki at the table in a large electric skillet.

        1. Shabu Shabu is cooked at the table - I am not a Japanese food expert but basically it's thinly sliced beef, shrimp, etc. cooked in broth by the diners themselves at the table. My mom also adds udon and tofu and vegetables to the broth, and serves a couple dipping sauces alongside for the cooked protein, plus rice. I have no idea if that is the authentic way to do it.

          Korean BBQ is also cooked at the table (at least at the Korean restaurants I've been to). Again, I am not an expert but perhaps others know.

          1 Reply
          1. re: farmersdaughter

            omg you guys are awesome!!! thanks so much for the ideas....

            1. not sure if this counts as cooking, but there's also raclette. info and great pic here:

              1 Reply
              1. re: Night Owl

                That's a nice idea - and one can rent raclette makers, though I usually melt the cheese (Swiss, not the French, which isn't nearly as good) over boiled potatoes under the broiler.

              2. While it isn't cooked, it could be made at the table - How about Sushi? You could have different ingredients (rice, seaweed, wasabi, fish already sliced, veggies) and have people roll their own creations.

                1. If you own a "hot plate" - you can make crepes at the table. And, your guests can choose the filling - flip the crepes - onto the plates. Fun.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: stellamystar

                    that was going to be my suggestion, could be yummy!

                  2. Raclette! If you have access to a raclette grill it is *really* delicious and lots of fun. Easy, too. You will boil & skin potatoes and provide platters of sliced ham, mushrooms, leeks, shallots, onions, and whatever else sounds good to you and then diners melt their own cheese in individual trays that fit under the cooking surface of the grill. While the cheese is melting they can toss some sliced ham, mushrooms, leeks, whatever on the grill top. Pour the melted cheese over a potato on the plate, grind on a bit of black pepper and eat with cornichons, pickled onions, and whatever meat & veggies they've put on the grill. It is amazing and lots of fun. Folks just keep grilling and melting and eating, grilling, melthing and eating. We love it. g

                    Here's a link to grill:


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: fern

                      fern, that is a beautiful piece! Now why did you go and put that link up.....: )

                    2. Its not cooked with heat, but restaurants used to prepare ceasar salad tableside. You could mix and toss your salad the same way. Also, a few weekends ago I prepared flaming bananas foster at tableside. It was a little theatre at the table. Everyone enjoyed the show.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Rhee

                        What about crepe suzettes? I clearly remember an episode of Julia Child's show with her making those for a party.

                        1. re: Rhee

                          Michael Chiarello has a great recipe for table side caesar salad. I cut up the romaine instead of leaving it whole.


                        2. Some ideas for desserts:

                          Whip cream at the table by hand. This is especially entertaining if alcohol has been involved in the meal.

                          Bananas Foster--a classic "tableside" dessert

                          Crepe Suzette--this might not be as entertaining as the Bananas Foster


                          Creme Brulee

                          And if you are doing Fondue, you can do a Chocolate Fondue for Dessert

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Non Cognomina

                            You could also do paninis if you have a grill.

                            1. re: AnneM

                              I was thinking paninis, too.

                              Oh, if you have a waffle maker, from ideas on this board, you could grill eggplant and make pizza waffles (Dorie Greenspan Waffles from Morning to Night). Then use brownie batter in the waffle maker for dessert w/ ice cream. That would be fun--a whole meal based on a waffle maker.

                              1. re: chowser

                                Paninis would be a fun wonderful idea! Now I want to do this!

                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                  Ooooh, dessert paninis!

                                  Banana and Nutella Panini on Brioche

                                  Or Peanut Butter and Chocolate Panini on Brioche

                                  Or Caramel and Apple Panini or Cinnamon Raisin Bread

                                  Or Lemon Curd and Mango with Mint or Sourdough


                          2. Many Korean meat dishes can be cooked at the table. Just depends on what equipment you have to cook with.
                            Bulgogi - Thin sliced marinated beef
                            GalBi - Cross cut beef short ribs
                            Pork Belly - Basically uncured/unsalted bacon

                            2 Replies
                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                Bulgogi - Thin beef slices marinated and either grilled or stir fried.
                                This picture is stir fried with onions, carrots, brocoli, mushrooms, and green onions.

                            1. you could caramelize sugar on creme brulee with a mini blowtorch at the table.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: howchow

                                holy cow - i go away for a few hours and you all totally bring me amazing ideas! thank you, everyone, so much! this is awesome.

                                1. re: piedsdesanges

                                  Let us know what you choose and how it turns out. Good luck!

                                  1. re: piedsdesanges

                                    so are you going to let us in on the "inside joke"?

                                    1. re: DGresh

                                      I am also doing a Fondue party (dessert fondue) in a few nights. . .
                                      any suggesstions on what to serve TO DRINK!? All that chocolate and syrup and sweets I want to balance it with a great wine and another non-alcoholic beverage - ideas? THANKS!

                                2. cook fajita fixings [& warm the tortillas] on a countertop grill/griddle & have guests assemble their own. prepare fresh guac at the table to go with them.

                                  1. Julia Child did a whole TV show on this- she made steak Diane. I know this episode and recipe is in her Cookbook for that PBS series. I'm sure you could find it at the library.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. check out the NYT's acrticle from yesterday on fondue!
                                      Everything looks delicious....

                                      1. As mentioned above, shabu shabu or sukiyaki: requires making a cooking broth and cutting up a lot of ingredients beforehand--but is really fun for all.