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For your next dinner party, wok on the wild side

Like its famous ceramic cookware, Le Creuset’s glass-topped, cast-iron woks are available in bright red, orange, green or blue.

You've heard of fondue, raclette and panini parties, but what about a wok party? It's not so far-fetched when you consider that many dinner parties typically start and end in the kitchen. And the many beautiful woks on the market right now, from All-Clad's sparkling stainless-steel version ($235 through www.williams-sonoma.com) to Le Creuset's brightly hued cast-iron models ($259 at through www.citychef.ca), make eye-catching and ultra-functional focal points.

Picture it: Your guests are gathered around your kitchen island, chardonnay glasses in hand, as you toss shredded beef and broccoli spears into a hissing stove-top wok. Long-handled chahn in hand, you mix the ingredients with a showman's skill, regaling them with tales from your weekly Cantonese cooking class or recent trip to Guangzhou.

When the beef is just so and the vegetables to the tooth, your party moseys into the dining room as you transfer your Asian feast from kitchen to table in one seamless swoop. As your guests take their seats, you heap steaming helpings of stir fry onto their plates, careful not to touch the wok's side, which can be blistering. (Woks retain heat well, which is great for keeping food warm, but not so great for fingers.)

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Best of all, there is only one cooking vessel to wash at the end of the evening.

Of course, stove-side entertaining isn't for everyone, but woks are also useful for more than just stir fry: The colourful ones, for instance, make ideal salad bowls, while the smaller models are perfect vessels for tapas. Now, isn't it time you wok the talk?

Sebastien Centner

is the director of Eatertainment Special Events in Toronto ( www.eatertainment.com ).

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