As part of our Wedding Expert Series, we ask our Saz’s Catering team to share their insight and provide helpful tips to ensure your wedding is a complete success without the stress of wondering if you’ve covered every angle. In this edition, we talk with Saz’s Catering Sous Chef, Sam Mackay, about how to have some fun and get creative with your wedding menu!
Creating Your Own Unique Menu
The best way a couple can create a menu that reflects their theme or taste is to brainstorm and to really talk to each other. There are so many media options out there now to help get ideas; from TV shows to blogs to Pinterest or even Google.
If a couple wants a unique, one-of-a-kind menu, I’ll sit down and talk with them; find out what things they love, their favorite places to eat, what they like to cook at home. This way, I can get a feel for who they are as people and create something uniquely tailored to them.
An easy way to create a custom, or unique menu, is to take dishes you already know and love, and simply change up a few ingredients. It’s as simple as swapping ingredients on a salad you would make for yourself at home.
One week you might love the cucumbers and tomatoes with Italian dressing, and the next you might decide you want chickpeas and quinoa with fire-roasted vegetables and a balsamic vinaigrette.
If you are adamant that you want a beef dish, but the tenderloin or New York strip is just not working for you; try out a flat iron, ribeye, or even filet of ribeye.
It’s All About the Ingredients
The first thing people should look at is what season they are getting married in. You wouldn’t plan a beautiful, warm and inviting December wedding and hope to have fresh roasted corn on the cob or fresh and crisp asparagus; they’re simply not in season and wouldn’t be the best quality.
Another thing to keep in mind would be any dietary restrictions they or their guests might have. I’m not saying that if you have three people that are gluten intolerant or dairy intolerant to plan your entire menu around them, but it doesn’t hurt to mention that to the Chef or planner.
They may have just the item for you and your guests or be able to custom-create an entire menu based on the needs of those guests, and no one would know the difference.
But let’s talk seasonal ingredients! They are, by far, my favorite thing to work with! You are guaranteed to have the best possible version of that product, since it is being picked or harvested at its peak. Seasonal ingredients are nice, too, because they are readily available and they’re cost-effective.
You also get better dish cohesiveness since you will barely have to alter the item’s flavor. Being that I am in the food service and hospitality industry, I instinctively dislike telling a client “no,” but I also do not want to give them a subpar product.
Being able to steer a client toward more seasonal ingredients is a way to meet them in the middle and still provide an excellent experience.
Great Ideas for a One-of-a-Kind Menu
We catered a large corporate event a few months back with custom-created stations. That particular client took inspiration from our standard stations’ menu and worked with us to create something more upscale, something to really “wow” their guests and create a memorable experience.
We came up with a cold earth station, featuring seasonal vegetable displays, a full display of Wisconsin-based cheeses, and our house-made Honey Smoked Salmon.
They also had a chef-manned Asian station, a homemade crepe station with a variety of fillings, and a small plates station where we served some of our most popular dishes, tapas style.
I’ve also done an Indian themed menu in the past, where the groom was blown away by the amount of time and care we put into the dishes. He said they reminded him of his mother’s cooking, they were so authentic in taste, texture and presentation.
Recently, we developed a menu inspired by the popular food truck scene. We had multiple stations featuring items like street tacos, a smokehouse station, a Chicago hot dog station, and even a fun dessert station featuring churros and cheesecake pops.
Inspiration is all around you and can come from the most unexpected places. Take the things you’re passionate about, and lean on the team you’ve hired to make them a reality in unexpected ways, like the menu you’re serving your guests. Around here, we have a saying we rely on – “The Better the Food, The Better the Experience.”
And it’s true – so many memories are made around food – some with a soft place in your heart and others where the food was a letdown and put a bit of a damper on the whole experience.
Now, there’s a place and a time for conventional menus, but your wedding day should be uniquely you. And what more delicious way to reflect who you are than in the food your guests get to enjoy as they celebrate you as a couple?!
Don’t be Afraid to Ask!
Even if you want something that is out of season, or if it’s a picture of a dish you’ve found while scrolling on Pinterest, it never hurts to ask your caterer. We will probably be able to source that product, or give you a smart substitution; we can more than likely recreate that dish, or tweak it to fit your wishes.
We are in the hospitality industry and will go above and beyond to make sure you are getting what you want!