I cater for a lot of functions these days, but catering for a wedding is something very close to my heart. Such a special day, one to look back on forever with (hopefully) great memories. I was so happy to be asked to cater for my first wedding.
As you can see by the pic (taken at the end of the night) I was very very tired by the end (those sunken eyes!). But, it was a fantastic night, and I even had a visit from the bride in the kitchen to give me a hug and thanks. She loved it, and that made my night.
Growing up, I went to many large Italian weddings. Kids were always invited back then, and I remember how excited I would be, sitting with my cousins, watching our Aunts, Uncles and Nonni as they danced the night away in their beautiful outfits. The room filled with laughter and music and there was always masses of food. Not decoratively positioned on individual plates, but placed onto large serving trays and placed in the centres of tables for everyone to share. I love eating like that, you get to have a little bit of this and a little bit of that. You stand and pass dishes along to one another, and the whole food experience is taken to another level. One that is intimate, social and fun.
Sharing food is my style of catering. I try to recreate that same experience when I serve food, so it becomes more than a meal. It is an experience. Of course the food needs to be good, but an enjoyable meal is about so much more than taste.
For this wedding I convinced the bride-to-be to let me run with the shared concept of feeding the guests. I wanted people to taste a little of everything without being overly full or overwhelmed. I wanted a feast for the eyes as well as a full stomach. The wedding was 2 hours away, in Cossack, so apart from all the cooking there was travel to consider. The town itself is also only on single phase power, so this was going to be a bit of a challenge for over 80 people.
I apologise if some of the pictures are a little blurry, cooking this amount of food doesn’t give me time to get the good camera out, but thank God for IPhones! We started with appetizers of Arancini, Crostini with Ricotta and Roasted Tomato and huge Antipasti boards laden with salami, cheeses, roasted vegetables, prosciutto with melon, olives and all the beautiful Italian produce I could lay my hands on. Served while guests sat around watching the sunset outside and pouring a few glasses of bubbly, it was a perfect start to the night.
Next we served shared platters per table: Prawn, Chorizo, Roasted Pumpkin and Feta Salad, Crispy Pork Belly with Poached Pear, Walnuts, Parmesan and Rocket, and terracotta bowls of handmade gnocchi with my family meatballs and tomato Sugo. Just enough for everyone to taste something new.
For mains each table was served 10 hour slow cooked lamb, herbed spatchcock chicken, risotto stuffed Portobello mushrooms, grilled Mediterranean vegetables and french beans with lemon and toasted almond. The tables looked amazing.
Desserts were platters filled with salted caramel macarons, chocolate dipped strawberries, chocolate ganache cake with salted caramel popcorn and lemon custard pastry horns. They looked amazing on the boards and took me back to my childhood, watching the dessert trays of canoli and cream horns go by.
The highlight of the night was when the bride personally came into the kitchen in her beautiful gown to hug me and thank me for the meal saying it was better than anything she could have imagined. I was overwhelmed and am so thankful for such kind words. It really means the world when you get good feedback. Next time you’re in a restaurant and enjoy the meal, make a point of saying something – it’s such a lovely thing to do and means so much.
What an amazing weekend and what a lovely couple. Thanks for having me Carly and Ashleigh. The whole feel of the wedding was incredible, and I hope that my Italian style of encouraging sharing and interaction at the table through food gave a little of that experience I remember from all the weddings I went to when I was growing up.