Top Tips from the Experts
Simon Farrell-Green, Editor at Eat Here Now gives the Do's & Don'ts on Wedding Food planning.
Wedding food is often needlessly fancy, and then it comes out half cold and tough anyway because it’s actually almost impossible to successfully plate 100-odd covers under the extreme time pressure created by the need for seven people to each make a speech. (It's even worse if you’re a vegetarian or vegan or don’t eat gluten or dairy.) So here are five thoughts for a most excellent evening.
Simon Farrell-Green, Editor at Eat Here Now
Photography "The French Kitchen" By David Straight
1. Keep it personal
Most “wedding” venues are tied up with big, impersonal caterers whose food leaves a great deal to be desired. We got married last year and borrowed a very beautiful house just outside the city, surrounded by orchards and a greenhouse, and then a chef we know cooked the food on an open fire. Got a favourite restaurant? Ask them. One of the best weddings I’ve been to was when I was best man: they had high tea for 120 and then dinner at The Grove for 40 of their nearest and dearest. It was incredibly special. In any case, the food should be a reflection of who you are and how you eat – not Menu A or B.
2. Get better booze
A wedding is no excuse for crap wine. If at all possible, try and bring your own booze, then shop around. We bought wine from our favourite vineyards – Waiheke chardonnay, Hawke’s Bay syrah and Central Otago pinot noir – and ordered a keg of craft beer from our favourite brewer. Failing that, work hard with the venue. Equally, don’t get top-shelf, or move onto something cheaper later – no one notices after the third glass.
3. Have a feast
Serving the food “family style” might seem too casual, but it encourages guest interaction and – crucially – it makes it easier on the kitchen. We had grilled spring lamb and whole pieces of kahawai and chickens, and then these came out with three big seasonal salads. Plating individually just wouldn’t have been as good – it’s easier to produce, say, 10 platters of lamb than 90 plates of it.*
* You probably wouldn’t want to do this at The Grove or The French Café, but they’re thorough professionals so plating everything at once is unlikely to cause a problem.
4. Don’t forget the cake
I’ve never understood why people spend $500 on cake and then serve it after dessert when everyone is pissed. Serve the cake for dessert! We asked Jordan Rondel from The Caker to make a multi-layered cake and it was beautiful with strawberries and marscapone.
"Restrict the speeches… And let your guests get on with dinner, since there’s nothing worse than a speech that drags on while the steak slowly overcooks"
5. Restrict the speeches
And let your guests get on with dinner, since there’s nothing worse than a speech that drags on while the steak slowly overcooks. Whatever you do, don’t have speeches while people have food: there’s a natural inclination to talk when you have food in front of you – let alone the sound of 100 knives and forks.