Dining in has taken on new meaning during the pandemic — and “in” is exactly where people are staying. So, caterers like Lorain County Community College (LCCC) at Spitzer Conference Center, a repeat winner for Best Caterer, have adapted by rolling out take-home meals and serving as a culinary resource.

Although LCCC Catering has hosted events for groups of 20 to 30 in its spacious venue, which could seat up to 120 guests in the Reaser Grand Room, the focus has shifted to promoting pickup fare and offering menu tips. “We’ve stayed in communication with our clients and the community by posting recipes with pictures and even some videos,” says Dean Johnson, manager of conference and dining services.

Executive Chef Dean DiLuciano posted recipes for dishes like Mexican street corn and roasted potato salad for Fourth of July. And during Thanksgiving, the catering team prepared made-from-scratch sides with warm-up instructions.

Here, DiLuciano and Johnson share some tips for entertaining at home so you can make the most of dining in. 

Create Single Servings. Any food served buffet style can be converted into a single serving. For example, a taco bar can be built into box meals. Chips and salsa can be portioned out into dipping cups for one. “Focus on individual items such as one-biters you can serve with tongs so guests are not using their fingers to grab,” DiLuciano suggests.

Try Open Air. Get out of the kitchen — and into the garage or an outdoor space where you can gather in the fresh air. If the weather isn’t cooperating, open the windows to circulate air, Johnson says.

Keep Food Covered. “Eliminate sources of contamination,” DiLuciano says, relating that Spitzer Conference Center covers all dishes until immediately before they are served. “Everything is individually plated with a lid,” he says.