Ina Garten Has 1 Easy Trick That Solves This Common Buffet Problem

Ina Garten said she entertains guests buffet-style often and has a solution for one of the trickier aspects that comes with a buffet. The Barefoot Contessa star shared the approach she uses to make the process seamless — and she involves her guests in a unique way.

Ina Garten smiles as she stands in front of the counter inside the "barn" on her property in East Hampton, New York.
Ina Garten | Mike Smith/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Ina Garten solves a common buffet problem

A buffet can be the perfect setup when entertaining guests because it allows people to help themselves to a variety of food. It can also create challenges, however, especially with timing. Garten has the best solution that allows her to include her guests and it really keeps everything comfortable and casual.

A fan asked Garten for advice on her Barefoot Contessa website’s ‘Ask Ina’ section and the Food Network star had the best way to handle a tricky situation. “I always set up buffet style for entertaining yet struggle as to the appropriate timing and manner to clear the dishes after dinner,” the fan wrote. “I never want to break up the momentum of the conversation yet do not feel so proper about leaving empty finished dinner plates in front of my guests.”

“Any tips would be appreciated as it seems no matter what I do, guests end up getting up,” they added.

Ina Garten has a simple request and her guests are always on board

Garten shared a tip that makes so much sense and gets her guests involved in a casual way. “I usually set up a buffet rather than serving my guests,” she explained. “But when it’s time to clear the dishes and serve the next course, I actually ask my friends to help and that way, they feel like they’re on the team!”

“I think people don’t feel comfortable being waited on by their friends and would prefer to help. I hope that makes entertaining less stressful for you!,” she added.

RELATED: Ina Garten Has 3 Strict Rules She Follows When Throwing a Big Party

Ina Garten loves the community aspect of entertaining

Garten’s advice is totally in line with her general philosophy about cooking and entertaining.

In a video promoting her cookbook Cooking for Jeffrey in 2016, Garten explained the best part about cooking for friends — and it goes beyond the food.

“The thing I like most about cooking is actually that when you cook, everybody shows up,” Garten shared. “It’s not really the cooking part, it’s the community part.”

“One of the things I think people get really worked up about is doing a meal that impresses everybody,” she continued. According to Garten, getting hung up on making a fancy menu isn’t what it should be about at all.

“What I try and do is something where you can buy really simple ingredients, cook something really simple, and everybody loves it,” the Barefoot Contessa star explained. “I love to take an idea of something I love, like lemon chicken, and just make it as simple as it can possibly be and as delicious.”