What Menu Option Works Best For Your Wedding?

When i first got married in what seems like a hundred years ago, I bucked the system in my small upstate NY town and had finger foods for the menu.  We had a very small wedding and when i think back, I’m sure most of the guests were wondering when dinner would be served.  Without much guidance, I had chosen that menu because it was cheaper and we didn’t have a lot of money.

My second wedding was in my home on New Year’s Eve and we thought it would be more fun to have a catered buffet and a party after, ringing in the midnight hour with friends and drinks.  I mean…who was eating anyway?

Fast forward to years later and I am now catering weddings.  Who would have thought?  What kind of perspective or knowledge to I have to give a potential wedding client?   Well, here are my thoughts on what and why and the reasons of.

Sit down dinners.  Not my choice.  Ever.  Although it really is one of the most budget friendly options, I do not like the idea of sitting at one table for a couple of hours talking to the same people you were fortunate enough to be paired with.  Typically it’s a chicken or beef selection and it’s dry or cold.  And although I’m there for the bride and groom, let’s face it… i’m also hungry, so I’d like it to be eatable.  Even the most efficient kitchens logistically cannot serve over 100 meals at the same time and keep everything hot.  

Family Style dinners.  This is a little better than sit down but not far off.  You not only get the privilege of sitting with the same people but now you can also pass bowls of food around.  This is great for very small groups of people but in the end you’re just getting cold food… just in bigger bowls.

Buffet dinners.  This still is not my favorite but better than a sit down.  You still have your table and fun table-mates but you at least have choices with this meal and can get up and have more food if you wish.  My problem with buffets (and only because I’m a little OCD) is the fact you still have a lot of people digging in the same container for their food and that is just not something that I like.  It’s like bulk food for the masses and it all kind of looks brown.  But variety, warm temperature and abundance is a plus.

Stations and Hors d’oeuvres.  Now we’re talking!  I love these ideas because you have so many options available! (This is probably why I chose to specialize in this category!) You can accommodate so many different tastes, dietary restrictions and budgets in one fell swoop and the possibilities are endless.  I’ve seen donut stations, pasta stations, salad stations and if you combine those with one or two bite size finger foods, you have a menu that will give guests something for everyone.  Plate it well and it will not only please the palate but also the eye. Remember, you always eat with your eyes first!   You really are only limited by your imagination and your wallet but the nice thing is, you can usually find some fun ideas to fit into either of those catagories, no matter what.

I know this is about what I like and what I’ve seen works best, but it’s really about you and your wedding and what you want for your menu.  Think about how you want the vibe to be and your tastes.  Think of the dietary restrictions you have to account for. This is nothing new but hopefully will let you explore options that you might not have thought about.  If you have questions or would like to look at menu options call your favorite caterer and see what will be the best for you!

An Interview with Jamie Young of Thirty 7 North Restaurant

Despite it’s location in a rather affluent area of Virginia Beach, Thirty 7 North Restaurant and Bar is an unassuming and relaxed place to go for dinner or to meet friends for an after work drink.  Located at 2105 West Great Neck Road in Virginia Beach and known for it’s elegant farm to table American Cuisine, it’s a casual on the water restaurant headed up by executive chef, Jamie Young.

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Jamie is a fresh new face to us, but not to the culinary world.  A graduate of Johnson and Wales, he moved to this area in 2012 to be with his sister who was in the military.  He was immediately hired on as the sous chef with Thirty 7 North and the rest is history.

I had the pleasure of talking to Jamie not too long ago, to discuss his passionate commitment of what he does best, serving up delicious and beautiful plates of incredibly good tasting food.

What is your philosophy on food and how do you come up with your menus?

It’s all about going back to the basics.  Keep it local, create new ideas but remembering to keep it simple.

How do you come up with the menus?  What is it that you are trying to create for the public?

It’s a team effort.  We put ideas together on what is fresh and what can come from what we grow or the local farms.  We want to create a healthy and simple – again back to the basics- menu.  I want to stay away from additives and go back to braising, grilling and roasting.

What tip would you have for the home cook that would really get them the “wow” factor?

It’s all about the attention to detail.  Create texture in food, make sure the plates are wiped.  The little things matter.

Have you ever cooked for anyone famous?  If so, who was it and what did you prepare?

Everyone is famous here!  Actually, when I worked in Charlotte,  I prepared Bananas Foster Pancake for Rosario Dawson, who is a female actress.  She liked breakfast.  And Michael Jordan came in several times, but there was never anything special he asked for.

What is your favorite local food  to cook with?  What is one of your signature dishes you like to use it in?

Rockfish.  My favorite is with wilted kale, roasted pumpkins from Stoney’s and a spiced butter sauce.

What is your favorite kitchen gadget you love to use?

My Vitamix.  It’s great for creating sauces and purees.  You can get different textures with it.

Jamie is about as relaxed and friendly as anyone I know, but don’t get me wrong.  He is a whirlwind of activity having just completed the Iron Chef competition, where dishes like bacon jam on cornbread and Geechi boy grits with braised goat were served.  He is also working with Jim White on nutritional fitness and is hoping to bring healthy menus together for the community.

Listed below is one of his recommendations, “House Pasta with Charred Yuzu Salsa”,  for the home cook to try.  If you can’t or don’t want to try and make it yourself, make reservations with Thirty 7 North by calling 757-412-0203.  I bet if you asked Jamie, he would make it for you!

 

 

 

 

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