“People want to push the wedding boundaries,” says Andrea Duty of Bake Sale in Austin, who caters to couples who dislike cake and want a less hidebound dessert with a more individualistic feel. “This generation has almost a competitive attitude. They want their weddings to land on the big wedding blogs, such as Style Me Pretty and 100 Layer Cake.”
That means food with flair. A series of small plates, rather than salad followed by chicken or fish and a slice of dazzling but dry cake. Avegetarian menu. A whole pig roasted in view of the guests. A dessert buffet loaded with just pies or an array of one-bite sweets.
“People’s expectations are higher even when there are 300 or 400 guests,” says Peter Callahan, a top New York caterer who wrote “Bite by Bite” (Clarkson Potter, 2011), a collection of sophisticated mouthfuls for weddings and other soirees.
Or, as Sina Molavi, the chef at Occasions Caterers in Washington, puts it: “People are looking for more of a restaurant-style dinner.” Rather than an industrial slab of salmon poached hours earlier and dressed with dill sauce, clients want seared-to-order halibut with celeriac puree and green apple ragout.
For the cocktail hour, Eric Michael, co-founder and creative director of Occasions in Washington, says his company has provided mixologists with unique cocktails and has set up food stations dispensing local charcuterie, made-to-order sevicheand single-ingredient stunts such as tomatoes prepared six ways. For one couple, “health-conscious but very food-savvy,” Occasions created a sit-down dinner that started with local carrots, pickled and cut into ribbons, served with fava bean and mint puree and pea tendrils, followed by hand-rolled sheep’s-milk ricotta tortellini in leek broth with chive blossoms, and a main course of organic hen cooked sous vide with vegetables bought at the farmers market the day before.
Wedding porn or “Portlandia”-worthy parody?
Michael says clients are now so locavore-ish that Occasions can have farmers plant to order for a wedding, if time allows. Which is what La Prima Catering, also in Washington/Baltimore, is doing for a wedding in September. The seeds for the kale that will become a salad with lavender honey were planted June 20; the main course, chicken seasoned with lemon grass and paired with roasted eggplant, will be made with chicks that will grow up on the farm after they arrive Aug. 8.