If there's one thing that can ruin a dinner party, it's crackers. So many appetizers are designed around these carby, bread-like wafers that it's hard not to be full by the time the salad is set before you.
A resourceful (and attractive) alternative: mussel shells.
They're the perfect vessel for serving saucy finger foods such as escargot, Asian-style fish balls or a simple piece of glistening sashimi in a wasabi sauce, such as the one shown here. The mollusk, which acts as a bowl and spoon at once, can be hoisted with one hand while the other holds a wine glass.
To prepare the shells in advance, scrub them with soap and water and bake them in the oven on a rack at 275 F until dry. Best of all, they go straight into the compost when the appetizers are done.
Chef Michael Tong is the owner of Toronto's Sublime Catering.