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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Making an Impression During a Recession
Monday, August 29, 2011

All of my friends have at least one thing in common (other than knowing me) - they’re all looking for the best ways to stretch a dollar. It seems everyone is either underemployed or underpaid, and this can lead to people thinking they have limited options for entertainment. When options get limited people tend to stay at home. Sometimes a traditional house party, a la Kid ‘n Play, can be fun, but there are other times when you don’t want your toilet clogged or to feel the need to hide what few nice things you may have. You also may want to try to woo your significant other with something a little classier than Dollar Menu drive-through pick up. With this in mind I caught up with two authors who are experts in fields of entertaining and dating - Sean Kanan, whose acting credits include The Young and The Restless and The Bold and The Beautiful, and whose book, The Modern Gentleman: Cooking and Entertaining with Sean Kanan, hits stores on Sept. 13th, and Enitan Bereola, whose book, Bereolaesque: The Contemporary Gentleman & Etiquette Book For The Urban Sophisticate, has led to him having numerous relationship columns on sites such as SoulTrain.com and a devoted following on Twitter - and asked them to give out some tips on how to make an impression during a recession.

Adam Bernard: When inviting someone into your home, either for a date, or a small gathering, what are some of the best ways to make an impression during a recession?
Sean Kanan: Almost all of us are feeling the sting from the fangs of the recession. The good news is that you do not have to spend a ton of dough to have a great time entertaining at home. If money is really tight consider hosting a brunch. You can make eggs and pancakes very inexpensively. Serve Bloody Marys with a wide and varied assortment of garnishes. If you opt for dinner there are an almost endless number of inexpensive pasta options. Pair with a unique salad choice such incorporating something slightly offbeat like fennel or heart of palm and either walnuts or pecans (make certain no one is allergic to nuts). Finish up with a selection of gelati with chopped fresh fruit and a nice garnish like mint or cocoa. Sometimes incorporating a slight change in location, like the outside balcony, patio, terrace, etc., or pillows on the floor, can mix things up nicely. Put together a dinner specific playlist and lots of candles and you are on your way. Lastly, economics often mean sacrifice. If you want to host one special person you will most likely have more resources. More people will spread your culinary/entertainment dollars more thinly. Plan ahead and remember the five P's - Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.
Enitan Bereola: A man's place of dwelling is his castle and speaks volumes about his life. Your home decor is your opportunity to display your style and expose a portion of your soul without saying a word. You can easily take honor in your home without breaking your bank. Your walls aren't meant to be bare - put some art up. You don't have to go out and get a Basquiat, find the graphic designer within and manipulate existing digital photos on your laptop. Technology makes it easier for you to be a modern day Warhol. Print your work, put it in a frame and it's as simple as that. Making impressions are important but most importantly, be you.

Adam Bernard: Obviously it’s important to clean your home before inviting someone into it, but if one’s place is Salvation Army chic, what can be done to make subtle improvements?
Sean Kanan: You hit the nail on the head with the importance of cleanliness. The day before any type of gathering you should perform a Defcon 4, Navy Seal turbo clean. On the day you will need to perform a final cleaning. Make certain to have matching towels in the WC. You can buy inexpensive decorative paper hand towels with some really cool patterns to spruce up the bathroom. Have a fresh new bar of scented soap and large bottle of mouth wash with paper cups. Consider dimming the lights and utilizing tea lights everywhere. You can accomplish a lot with manipulation of lighting. Consider reconfiguring or outright removal of some furniture to accommodate a crowd. Remember to appeal to all five senses. A bowl of fresh lemons costs less than three dollars. Flowers don't have to break the bank. If you actually go to your local flower mart you can really score. If all else fails look outside your front door. Yes, even this Modern Gentleman has engaged in some black ops to secure flowers from shall we say less than traditional commercial options.
Enitan Bereola: More than anything, a clean home is a suitable home. Less is more so get rid of all that unnecessary junk you've collected, but never use. Create open space by rearranging furniture. One great trick is adding a copy of BEREOLAESQUE to your coffee table. It's the perfect compliment to any home.

Adam Bernard: Let’s say you want to cook dinner for someone, but your culinary skills are lacking, or you may not even have a complete kitchen - a buddy of mine lived in a studio apartment that didn’t even have a kitchen drawer. Is there a way you can pull off a tasty, and tasteful, evening, or are we lookin at mac and cheese with cut up hot dogs?
Enitan Bereola: Some of the best food I've ever tasted was in the smallest kitchen I'd ever seen in Milan, Italy. It's all about working with what you've got. I'm sure several women can attest to this theory.
Sean Kanan: If you lack any skill whatsoever I suggest you run don't walk to grab my book. I promise you will succeed in creating an easy to make and much appreciated meal. Grilling is always a good option. It is almost impossible to screw up a good cut of meat that has been marinated and cooked over an open flame. Pair this with a wedge of iceberg lettuce and a nice vinaigrette with crumbled Maytag blue cheese and you can't go wrong. If you simply do not have a kitchen then I would order something from takeout and immediately flip to the part of my book about entertaining and creating atmosphere. At the end of the day it is about the person with whom you are spending time.

Adam Bernard: A lot of people try to act like wine experts when they’re looking to make a good impression. Wine can get expensive, though. Is it a decent move to ask the wine guy at your liquor store for some inexpensive recommendations, or should you, in the words of TLC, stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to?
Enitan Bereola: Wine is one of the most beautifully in-depth pastimes to indulge in. There is an actual course on wine at the illustrious University of California Berkeley. That goes to show how serious it is. From production to consumption, red, white and blush wines can confuse many. There is absolutely nothing wrong with consulting the local wine guy at the liquor store. I'd go as far to say there's something wrong with not consulting an expert if you don't know your grapes. It's better to ask than to look like an ass. A key to understanding wines is that price doesn't always reflect taste/quality. Expensive doesn't mean the best and cheap doesn't mean the worst.
Sean Kanan: I am a huge proponent of knowing when it's time to call in a professional. Wine store employees are great resources and generally very helpful. My book has a terrific section on learning the basics when it comes to wine, champagne and spirits. The internet is also a tremendous resource. Don't be afraid to admit you are just learning. Only poseurs sniff corks and act like they can really tell the difference between a wine corked on a Tuesday as opposed to a Saturday.

Adam Bernard: Finally, is there a dress code for when dinner’s at your place, and if so, what is it?
Sean Kanan: Sexy.
Enitan Bereola: Of course. You don't want to look too stuffy in the comfort of your own home or it'll look too forced. Lose the suit and throw on some nice jeans with a nice button down shirt or even a high quality v-neck and wingtip kicks. Casually cool is the look to go for when at home. Not overdressed to where you look inauthentic, but not under-dressed where you look like you don't give a damn about your date. If you're still preparing the meal when she arrives, go ahead and kick your shoes off and pour her a glass. There's nothing like great conversation while preparing a meal for a beautiful lady. Bon appétit.

Follow Sean and Enitan on Twitter at

Sean: @SeanKanan
Enitan: @bereolaesque

Order their books at

Sean Kanan’s The Modern Gentleman
Enitan Bereola’s Bereolaesque


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:35 AM  
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