Cooking for a bunch of people for the first (or 30th) time? Don’t be scared. Follow these tips.

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If you’re at all close to being a novice, cooking a multicourse dinner for a bunch of beloved people on an important day of togetherness can be terrifying.

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(Jackie Donnelly / Special to The Seattle Times)

Consider choosing yourself a trusted, obedient sous chef to help you with chopping, dishes, etc. (and note that sometimes a cousin is better than a spouse). They can help you with your mise en place, or getting everything ready for each dish before you start cooking it.

Then don’t forget to taste as you go, and remember that salt, pepper and something acidic (lemon juice, apple cider vinegar) are your friends for correcting taste (start with small amounts). Flat-leaf parsley or other garnish on finished dishes makes it look perfect, even if it’s not.

And have fun: As Julia Child said, “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking, you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” (And note that she also said, “I enjoy cooking with wine — sometimes I even put it in the food.”)

— Bethany Jean Clement, Seattle Times food writer