Well Served: The Latest in Wedding Catering Trends

From fresh farmers' market ingredients to interactive stations, these caterers are making good food and artisanal cocktails even better
From: Spring Summer 2015 edition

Welcome Committee

Los Angeles’ Good Gracious! Events revs up the welcome wagon with a seasonal display of handcrafted, infused lemonades featuring seasonal herbs and fresh local ingredients, such as lemongrass and chamomile, orange and jasmine, mint and cucumber, oregano and blackberry. “The presentation is key,” notes Good Gracious’ senior event producer, Michelle Facciolla. “Make it fun by giving each of the concoctions a fun coordinating name—like La Dolce Vita for huckleberry lemonade or Happy Retreat for mint and cucumber.” Just add your favorite flavors or tie it in with your wedding palette to create a delicious—and colorful—thirst quencher.

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Photo courtesy of NYFC

Go Green

Couples are looking for beautiful presentations that are equally earth conscious and healthy. Southern California’s innovative New York Food Company (NYFC) strives to bring a bountiful representation of fresh fruits and vegetables to its meals—imagine colorful, fresh and green offerings. Popular requests include a caprese appetizer featuring locally grown heirloom tomatoes with fresh basil, flash-fried cilantro spiking freshly prepared guacamole, and beautiful chilled pea-soup shooters served with a short rib grilled cheese bite. And as a bonus, to alleviate wastefulness (and help budgets), NYFC has a knack for repurposing main entrées into tasty late-night snacks—so spring roasted chicken could become bite-size shredded tacos.

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Photography by: Luminaire Images

Handy Bites

“The proliferation of cooking shows on television has created a foodie culture,” notes Veronica Medrano of Orange County–based Summit Event Catering. “Wedding guests have sophisticated palates and expect exciting food experiences.” Passed appetizers like this one-bite ceviche tostada combines ease (no juggling a drink and utensils) with bright and clean flavors, which marry perfectly with warm-weather weddings. Ceviche, a fresh fish “cooked” with lime or lemon juice, is served on multicolored tostada shells and topped with cilantro.

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Photography by: Studio EMP

Quick-fire Challenge

Orange County’s 24 Carrots is renowned for cutting-edge cuisine and a knack for creating an interactive atmosphere. Think cool stations that serve made-to-order dishes, such as the caterer’s famous gnocchi station, complete with customizable ingredients, and its savvy do-it-yourself hot-rock dish. “We serve guests a plate with a very hot rock, chimichurri-marinated Kobe beef slices, a citrus-yuzu sauce and sea salt,” explains Creative Director, Arpi Torosyan. Novices, fear not, the chef is on hand to explain the quick-cooking process.

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Photography by: Willa Kveta Photography

Sugar Highs

Ditch the dessert table in favor of a chef-hosted dessert bar, offering delectables such as warm doughnuts frosted to order. Santa Barbara–based Pure Joy Catering connects with brides and grooms to find out what they really love—whether it’s fruity or sweet or salty—to create the perfect flavor combo: perhaps Nutella with crushed pretzels, banana glazed with bacon and crushed peanuts, or raspberry glaze with glitter hearts. Of course, keeping it simple with chocolate and plain glazed doughnuts and color-palette-matching sprinkles is also an option, assures Alizabeth Schotten. Another bridal favorite are made-to-order ice cream sandwiches. Pure Joy’s freshly baked chocolate chip, white chocolate chip or cinnamon-nutmeg glazed butter cookies are the perfect base for a scoop of Santa Barbara–based McConnell’s ice cream (choose from more than a dozen flavors, like churros con leche, black chocolate chip and Turkish coffee). Top with sprinkles or peanuts and dessert is served.

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Photography by: Thomas Ackerman

Prost-worthy Pairings

Move over, vintners, beer-paired dinners are the new gastronomical go-to. “Craft beer is one of the fastest-growing industries in the country,” notes Adam Hiner of Eco Caters, an environmentally sustainable company, with headquarters in both LA and San Diego, recognized for handcrafting 100 percent of its food. “Take that along with the notion that craft beer actually pairs better with food than wine,” says Hiner. “So many different flavors can be added to beer to make it attractive for pairing.” Eco Caters creates dishes such as roasted chicken with grilled lemon and watercress purée paired with an extra-pale ale from San Diego brewer AleSmith (above, top) and clams with tomatoes and garlic paired with Coronado Brewing’s Mermaid’s Red (above, bottom).

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Photography by: Vero Foto

That’s Entertaiment

In true Hollywood fashion, Los Angeles’ Made by Meg adds a little theater by turning appetizers into an and interactive presentation. “Guests love that they can watch the chef make their food,” explains chef Meg Hall. “They know it’s fresh and just for them.” Hall sets up a station amid guests and begins by “painting” a nonstick, fabric with a tamari-chile glaze reduction, followed by a crispy base of hand-fried wontons topped with Asian guacamole and seared ahi tuna. “My favorite part is slinging the last few drops of glaze as a final flourish before dusting the group in fresh chives,” says Hall. “It breaks up (potentially stale) conversations and creates an experience two people can discuss and enjoy together.”

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Photography by: Jordan Catapano Photography

Moonshine Run

More than ever, artisanal cocktails are a required wedding-reception component—and BevMo!’s Melissa Ragole says the next big trend is moonshine cocktails. High-octane thirst quenchers such as a moonshine-spiked rosemary whisky sour (on right) or strawberry-flavored moonshine mixed with freshly squeezed orange juice (on left) keep guests flocking to the bar. Ragole recommends serving moonshine cocktails in a Champagne coupe for elegance with a Southern wallop. As a bonus, couples that register at BevMo! can schedule a private tasting with one of its trained pros, who will help customize everything from wine pairings and more.