Tips From Top Chefs
The centerpiece of the reception is the food — it’s all about quality, flavor and presentation.
Executive Chef Steve Stinnett of the Manchester Country Club, and soon his own new restaurant in downtown Manchester, suggests picking a food theme for the wedding and building the menu from there. The entire meal will flow, from appetizers to dessert, as naturally as carefully selected items from a fine Italian, French or Mediterranean restaurant. Gastronomically, you will be selecting foods that go together. Serve wines from the same region to take it a step further. A carefully chosen wine for each course would greatly enhance the food experience.
One of Stinnett’s brides picked an apple theme and he created a variety of dishes showcasing apples in several forms. Vermont chicken with Cabot cheddar cheese was served with honeyed onions and gala apples in an apple-brandy sauce.
Is your biggest concern that the guests will like your food choices? Chef Stinnett suggests keeping the food simple, but adding a flair. You can still serve an Italian version of chicken, but maybe just call it chicken instead of “pollo.”
If you decide to stick to safer standard items for the entrée, Executive Chef Martin LeGay of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nashua recommends you step out with appetizers, soups and salads.
The salad could have figs or bleu cheese, the soup could be chilled strawberry bisque and passed appetizers could range from Beef Wellington to mini quiches. LeGay adds that a nice touch is to have white-gloved butlers pass the hors d’oeuvres.
Even if you choose chicken cordon bleu it does not have to be the standard one, LeGay suggests. Instead of ham, Swiss cheese and chicken wrapped and breaded, the chicken could be stuffed with prosciutto, fontina cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. Topped with a basil-laced crème sauce, sliced and fanned chicken can make a beautiful presentation. (And not too crazy for Grandma.)
Executive Chef James Dyer of The Mount Washington Resort at Bretton Woods recommends that if you want a real party atmosphere at the reception choose a variety of chef-attended or static food stations. People, including the bride and the groom, have a chance to get up and interact while serving themselves exactly what they want. A raw bar, a pasta station, beef and pork carving stations and maybe even a dessert buffet can be part of the fun. Expect to pay more since extra personnel are needed and additional food has to be prepared.
Get the party going with ice carvings. LeGay has seen names, love birds and even a large martini glass carved out of ice. A spigot was frozen inside and martinis flowed for all.
What’s for dessert? Most brides are serving the cake for dessert, but LeGay likes to add a swirl of strawberry sauce to the plate. Another popular trend is a multi-tiered fountain, where guests can dip and twirl fruits in velvety chocolate.
Lastly, before settling on your menu, ask for a tasting for you and your groom. Maybe even get your parents involved if you are unsure of your preferences.
Don’t be afraid to ask for extra touches. Chefs love to be challenged and aim to satisfy. NHB