Category Archives: Wedding Food & Beverage

Summer Entertaining– Dine Like You are in Napa in Your Own Backyard

Just last month I co-chaired a Wedding Industry Professionals Association (WIPA) meeting held at Church Estate Vineyards in Malibu.  The day was gorgeous and once guests entered the estate they were swept away to Southern California’s finest coastal wine country.

photo courtesy of Imagery Immaculate Photography

In addition to the fantastic setting, the food (catered by Good Gracious! Events) and its presentation were the epitome of summer vineyard entertaining.   Peach and thyme infused water along with platters of fresh figs and salads adorned the table.  The frequently refreshed platters gave a sense of abundance.

While we don’t all live on a vineyard estate we can take inspiration from the menus we find in wine countries all over the world.  The beauty of the quintessential wine country dishes is their focus on fresh and local ingredients. A white porcelain dish filled with organic farmer’s market strawberries makes a stunning statement.   The bright reds of tomatoes, oranges of peppers and squash, and greens of arugula and basil are beautiful as well as mouth watering.

Today’s Los Angeles Times featured an article on easy -to- prepare whole grain salads that are beautiful for a summer vineyard-inspired buffet.  The salad below is made with bulgur, arugula, zucchini, and pine nuts.

This Quinoa, grilled corn, tomato, and cilantro salad is refreshing and sophisticated and will certainly impress your guests at your next get together.

Please, pour yourself a glass of California Chardonnay and enjoy a fantastic, mouth watering meal in the sun to celebrate these precious summer months!

Ice-Cold Vegan Wedding Desserts

Who doesn’t love an ice-cold refreshment on a hot summer day?  The thought of popsicles and ice-cream sandwiches takes me back to the ice cream vendor at the park I used to love as a kid.  I can still hear the tinny sound of the music that triggered a pavlovian response to run as fast as I could to the truck to order a Big Stick.   Now, with creative dessert artisans we can enjoy vegan versions of our childhood favorites without sacrificing the flavor we remember.

Compassionate (read dairy and egg free) desserts aren’t just for vegans these days.  They are for everyone who wants to enjoy delicious sweets.  Ice cream sandwichesSorbet cakes, Popsicles, and Ice Cream balls like the ones pictured above make a beautiful (not to mention tasty) dessert display so guests can cool down after a hot summer evening on the dance floor.

There are endless vegan ice cream flavors and options to play with for an exciting sundae bar.  For vegan Ice Cream Parlors across the US, check out: Ten Vegan Ice Cream Shops

Hope you all are having a fabulous summer and eating to your (vegan) heart’s content!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creating Festive Food Stations for Your Wedding

In a previous post, I mentioned that I recently gave a presentation at Catersource, the leading industry conference for caterers.  Here is an excerpt from this presentation topic – the design of food stations for wedding receptions.

If you are unfamiliar with the term, a “food station” is simply a fixed location where your guests can go to obtain food (instead of waiters coming to your guests to serve food).   Some people use the term “buffet” interchangeably with “food station,” but they are not the same thing in my book.  In fact, in my book Countdown to Your Perfect Wedding, I had this to say: “long buffet tables, exhibiting all the ambiance of an Army mess hall, should be dishonorably discharged from service.”

So while buffets may resemble your high school cafeteria, at food stations we typically use “small plates,” which are served in a much more attractive manner.

Photo:  Dennis DeSilva, Studio Seven

Why would you want to have food stations at your wedding?  First of all, food stations entice your guests to move around more, and this leads to more interaction among the guests.  Also, food stations provide more variety in the styles of food service, which makes the reception a more interesting culinary experience for guests.

There is one more reason to use food stations – and this is the reason why I gave the presentation at Catersource.   Food stations provide an opportunity to creatively express the design theme of your wedding.

For example, I had a bride and groom who loved all sorts of sports – hiking, biking, running, skiing, etc. – so I designed an “All Things Athletic” theme for their wedding.  To convey this theme at the cocktail reception, we had a “Mountain Climbing Station” decked out with an ice pick, pitons and climbing rope:

Photo courtesy of Melons Catering

If the idea of having food stations at your wedding intrigues you, first consider when you might want to use them.  It really is a matter of personal choice!  Some couples decide to have stations for their main meal service, but the vast majority of my clients have opted for a seated, plated meal for their dinner.  If you also prefer to have a sit-down dinner, then the best opportunities for using stations are during the cocktail reception… or you can have a dessert station after dinner:

Photo:  Wendy Maclaurin Richardson

Regardless of the design theme you have chosen for your wedding, it creates more interest when you have a variety of table shapes and heights at the food station.  This waterfront wedding, catered by Paula LeDuc Fine Catering, was designed with elements of sailing ropes and grasses growing by the seashore.

Photo:  Wendy Maclaurin Richardson

To provide some finishing touches on the stations, I like to select dishes and utensils that complement the food & beverage and the design concept.   When appropriate, I use lighting and props to enhance the look.  This station was designed to represent the couple’s favorite Asian restaurant in New York:

Photo:  Grace Image

Custom-designed food stations are not inexpensive – they typically can cost anywhere from $400 to $1,000 to create.  But they are a wonderful way to enhance the design concept of your celebration, while creating an unforgettably delicious experience for your guests.