Though you might know her as the lipo-loving fitness instructor from Legally Blonde or the superhuman with a whole lot of alter-egos in Heroes, Ali Larter’s friends and family know her as one kick-ass cook and hostess extraordinaire. The L.A. actress and mother just published her first cookbook, Kitchen Revelry, a collection of seasonal recipes and entertaining ideas that are fun, manageable, and definite crowd-pleasers. When we asked Larter to share her list of ten items essential for entertaining, we should have known that all the tools in Larter’s arsenal would be practical, stylish, and fundamental in throwing a successful dinner party.
I’m known for making Champagne fondue with brie, or dark chocolate fondue for dessert. All of my friends count on having it when they come over. All-Clad Fondue Set, $170, Bloomingdales
This is really indispensable. You can make anything from a soup to a casserole in this pot-of-all-trades. Plus, I love a pop of red in the kitchen, if you hadn’t already noticed. Staub ‘Coq au Vin’ Oval Dutch Oven, $280, Cutlery and More
|A UNIQUE SERVING DISH
I use thick wood cutting boards for serving all the time—I like the rugged feel. My charcuterie plates are always packed with cheeses, fruits, crackers, and something special like truffle honey (which is something I like to give that as a hostess gift in a small weck jar). John Boos Black Walnut R- Board, $126, Sur la Table
I love tons of votive candles—I always buy them in bulk when I find some on sale. I love the smell of Diptique’s Baies scent and I am really into the Winter Haus “fig & fireside” candles from Haus Interiors. Baies Diptyque Candle, from $28, Diptyque
You can’t go wrong with a beautiful wine glass. I always mix high with low: If I’m using crystal, I’ll put out more casual, wood pieces. I like my home to feel comfortable with a bit of glamour. Saint-Louis Stella White Wine Glass, $213, Artedona
I love to use my red and white Hermès dishes for lunches, brunches, and casual, fun dinners and pair them with basic flatware. When I use my elegant Haviland plates, I like to balance the look with wood and burlap accents. Balcon du Guadalquivir Dessert Plate, $115, Hermès
Fuss-free, these glasses can be popped in the microwave or thrown in the dishwarer, but still look good when they’re filled with a cup or water—or wine—at the dinner table. Duralex Gigogne Tumblers, $18 (set of six), Duralex
Laquiole’s steak knives are classic and not too expensive. I also love the simple design of Christofle “Malmaison” flatware —it feels timeless, but has a really great, glam look.
Laguiole Steak Knife Set, $99, Williams-Sonoma
|PRETTY TABLE LINENS
When I’m feeling fancy, or when the occasion calls for it, I use Kim Seybert black, round placemats or Heath Ceramics linen runners. Classic and simple, these pieces can dress up any table. Napoli Vintage Tablerunner, $68, Heath Ceramics
|A GOOD DRINK
It’s very important to always have one of your favorite bottles of something on hand. I like all kinds of reds, especially Cabs like Faust. Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Champagne is so divine—it’s always sitting in my leather and silver wine bucket. Chartreuse V.E.P. is an interesting, very high-proof liquer made by monks in France. It comes in a beautiful bottle with a wood box. If the monks drink it… Chartreuse VEP, $110, Proof 66
Photograph: Amy Neunsinger