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Carson Kressley's three simple rules for hosting brunch

And tequila doesn't hurt, either, 'newbo evolve' speaker advises

Carson Kressley talks with Marianne Carlson of Johnson and Aaron Murphy of Cedar Rapids about the best way to host a brunch at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cedar Rapids Convention Complex during Newbo Evolve in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018. (Hannah Schroeder/The Gazette)
Carson Kressley talks with Marianne Carlson of Johnson and Aaron Murphy of Cedar Rapids about the best way to host a brunch at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cedar Rapids Convention Complex during Newbo Evolve in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018. (Hannah Schroeder/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Carson Kressley’s answer to most blunders that could arise at a brunch? Margaritas.

“Start that blender,” he told a crowd of about 50 people Sunday morning on the final day of the “newbo evolve” festival. “It distracts people.”

Famous for being the fashion expert on the “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” television series, Kressley shared tips with the audience about how to successfully host a brunch.

He was joined by Marianne Carlson — the Iowa State Fair award-winning cinnamon roll baker from Jefferson — and Aaron Murphy, a Cedar Rapids interior design consultant.

Kressley admitted to attending more brunches than he’s hosted, from his first at a quaint inn near his hometown of Allentown, Penn., to boozy affairs on the coasts.

“There’s this new thing in New York and L.A. where they have bottomless brunches, have you heard about this?” he asked an adoring crowd at the DoubleTree by Hilton Convention Complex. “ In L.A., you get, like, an egg and then you get a gallon of booze.

“I think that New York has better brunches than L.A., but I like a good Midwestern. I like a sausage and gravy brunch, grits — like a Bob Evans experience.”

When he does host brunches, Kressley said he tries to follow three rules:

1. Keep it simple

When you’re entertaining, make time to actually be with your guests, Kressley said. Have a few dishes to serve, but don’t get too elaborate.

“I usually don’t even cook,” he added, noting the joys of catering. “I keep my shoes in the oven — I live in New York, I need the space.”

2. Cater to all five senses

Have a drink ready for guests to hold, good smells wafting out of the kitchen and beautiful tablescapes ready for guests to see.

“We eat with our eyes first,” he said. “I’m always getting ketchup in my eye.”

3. Have fun

“I tend to be a nervous entertainer,” Kressley said, adding he usually has games and icebreakers ready to go.

Attendees, while partaking in one or two of Carlson’s cinnamon buns and mimosas, posed their own questions throughout the hourlong session:

Table centerpieces? Fresh fruit or branches.

Attire? “Dressy-ish” for women, while men can’t go wrong with jeans, a button-down and a sports jacket.

Kressley said he’s enjoyed his weekend in Cedar Rapids — “I met a farmer and we talked about corn. I was like, ‘What’s your favorite seed?’ He said the 60-20. I said, ‘Me, too. Gives a great tassel’” — and hopes to be back again for the next iteration of the festival.

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“I’ll be here next year,” Kressley told his audience. “We’re trying to get Cher!”

l Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

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