Thursday, April 21, 2011

Step 54 - Have a Food Tasting with your Caterer and Decide on Wedding Hors d'oeuvres

(4 Months to 6 Months before the Wedding)
Most wedding caterers will offer a taste testing session to help you in deciding which entrees are best to serve at your wedding. If it's a sit down dinner, most of the time you need to come up with three main dishes, you want to consider a delicious meal, with an elegant food presentation on how the food is displayed on the plate and you want to pick foods that will work within your budget. If you need to cut down on the budget, you can often opt for a buffet style dinner, or go with the less expensive entrees. You might consider going with very inexpensive hors d'oeuvres or no hors d'oeuvres or limit the hard liquor options.

When you attend the food tasting session with the caterer, the bride and groom should make the decision together, many caterers won't even charge the bride and groom for the food tasting session. You should make a fun time of it and invite a couple of extra guests along to the food tasting, could be the bride's parents, the groom's parents, the maid-of-honor, the best man and a buddy, sisters, brothers, or close friends. There may be a minimal charge for invited guests at the tasting, it could be something like $5, but for the delicacies your guests get to try, the fee is well worth the price.

Pace yourself at a food tasting, you want a good tasting of all the foods and you don't want to eat too fast, or else you will find yourself stuffed and not get a good taste on all the food options. If there is a bar with the caterer, you might include a bottle of wine to clean your palette between tastings or, if wine is allowed, bring your own wine. If wine is not available you should keep a glass or bottled water at the table and wet your lips after each sampling. Be sure to get feedback from all your guests, get constructive criticism on what meals are best.

At the end of the food sampling you want to identify three separate entrees, in three different food categories. One of the categories should always be vegetarian, as in a wedding guest list there is almost always a few vegetarians in the crowd. The foods choices might be beef, chicken, and pasta, or pork, seafood, and vegetarian, etc. When the food tasting is over, if at all possible to go back in the kitchen and pay compliments to the chef. Sometimes, if you leave a good impression, the chef may do some favors for you the day of your wedding, add some desserts for free or leave you with a little treat to take home.

If there is a favorite food that you like, that was not part of the food tasting, you may ask the caterer about the possibilities, could be something like prime rib, filet mignon, or veal marsala or a favorite meal you enjoy, very often a chef can accommodate your wishes. On the foods you are choosing, try to have the caterer show how the food will it be presented, for weddings food presentations are as important as the food being served.

As you are with the caterer, take note of the attentiveness of the wait staff. Pay attention on the front end (servers) as well as kitchen staff (chef) on how well they communicate with one another. Do things run smoothly, or in an unorganized manner. This tip is important if you plan to hire the caterer's wait staff. Get contacts and referrals from prior weddings of some previous brides and grooms and see if they were happy with the caterer, food presentation, and the food. Remember, when picking the wedding caterer, it's nice to get feedback, but the ultimate decision maker is the bride and groom.

Don't ever keep wedding guests waiting for food at wedding receptions, try to incorporate a cocktail - hors d'oeuvres happy hour before the formal wedding reception. Always provide seating for older weary guests. If you don't provide seating some of your older guests just may not have a good time and decide to leave early.

Keep the hors d'oeuvres varied and flowing! You may consider to have them butlered (passed) and in addition displayed on a buffet or reception table. The rule of thumb is to offer a set of hors d'oeuvres with every 4-5 people and expect each person to eat 6-8 hors d'oeuvres per hour. One hour of serving appetizers is good for most weddings that have a formal wedding dinner. Serve some cooler hors d'oeuvres (called canapes) in the summertime and a higher percentage of hot hors d'oeuvres in the wintertime. If the wedding is a formal affair, cut down on the amount of drippy hors d'oeuvres and sauces or risk some of the guests getting stains on their expensive dresses and tuxedos.

If you are having a an outdoor or an estate wedding. You can buy bulk hors d'oeuvres at discount stores such as Costco, BJs, Sams, and from gourmet food delivery businesses such as Horizon Foods. You also might find hors d'oeuvres that you can purchase from Catering Companies, Reception Facilities, Upscale Hotels that offer weddings, Upscale Rehearsal Dinner Restaurants, and some Wedding Bakeries and Delicatessens too.

Strike a balance of different types of hors d'oeuvres. Most hors d'oeuvres served at weddings should be unique and talked about, with foods you normally don't see at your home. You want to see a good variety of meats, cheeses, doughy foods, seafood, veggies, and fruits. You want to provide enough food to control guest's hunger pains before the formal wedding reception but not too many hors d'oeuvres, that stuffs all the guests for dinner. Don't leave food on bread or crackers out for more than a couple of hours or the foods may spoil. If friends or family is preparing the catered food, make sure there are enough preparations tools to go around. Purchase extra tools such as paring knives, melon ballers, meatball scoopers, cheese slicer, or measuring spoons. You can leave extra tools as wedding favors.

If there are hors d'oeuvres after the wedding, consider dropping the leftovers at a senior citizens complex, a convalescent home, or a soup kitchen and leave the disadvantaged with a rare treat. If you find any hors d'oeuvres takes a lot of time and effort to prepare, by family or friends, consider using easier recipes. Try to minimize the effort, by freezing hors d'oeuvre's that you can prepare beforehand, and just need to be popped in the oven at the wedding reception. Some hors d'oeuvres should be made into show pieces such as standing cocktails with a dish on a trumpet cups or delicacies of food on skewering sticks. Make sure all the wait staff are dressed appropriately for the wedding.

In recent years, cocktail/hors d'oeuvres wedding receptions are becoming more and more popular, especially in cases where the bride and groom are dealing with a very tight budget. Many venues frown on these type of wedding receptions because their margins are not as strong, much more money is made from a formal wedding reception. If you have a cocktail/hors d'oeuvre wedding reception, it is recommended you include a nice salad bar. Remember to include a wide assortment of salads and condiments, such as potato salad, macaroni salad, basic salad, uncommon soups, chips and dips such as avacado, salsa, vegetable, and spinach, and it's good to include tropical fruits such as mango, papaya, kiwi, strawberry, bananas, pineapple, watermelon, coconut, honey dew, and cantelope. Think about decorative fruit displays into some of the trays. Think of serving rarer cheeses and various sliced meats like pepperoni, prosciutti and salami.

Remember at any cocktail/hors d'oeuvres receptions think about including an open bar and think about including some soft music to entertain your guests. You might offer live music, such as a string quartet, flutist, pianist, harpist, or a guitarist. You may think about including a slide show of the couple growing up and some of their engagement photos at the cocktail part of the reception.

Your best cocktail/hors d'oeuvres wedding events are when the hors d'oeuvres become a talking point. Either the hors d'oeuvres offer an eye popping display, the guest has no idea what they had just eaten, or it will be a case of "Why didn't I think of that"?

100 hors d'oeuvre ideas are listed below to research in recipe books or off the internet!
  1. Asian Spring Rolls
  2. Asparagas and Prosciutti Bundles
  3. Avocado Appetizers and Ginkgo Nut Skewers
  4. Bacon Onion Appetizers
  5. Bacon Water Chestnut Wraps
  6. Baked Venison
  7. Barbecued Ribs
  8. Barbecued Swedish Meatballs
  9. Beef and Onion Turnovers
  10. Beef Wellington Appetizers
  11. Bloomin' Onion Petal with Chipotle Sauce
  12. Buffalo Wings
  13. California Baja Rolls
  14. Cheeseburger Sliders
  15. Cheese Puffs with Bacon
  16. Chicken and Bacon Shish Kebobs
  17. Chicken Quesidillas
  18. Chicken Satay Brochette with Peanut Sauce
  19. Chilean Sea Bass Wellington
  20. Chinese Won Tons with Plum Sauce
  21. Coconut Shrimp with Mango Chutney
  22. Cocktail Meatballs cooked in Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce
  23. Crab Josephines
  24. Crudite served in Shot Glasses
  25. Cuban Christo with Mustard and Chives
  26. Cucumber Appetizers with Herbed Cream Cheese
  27. Curried Chicken Tea Sandwiches
  28. Escargot in Mushroom Caps
  29. Fried Beer Raviolis
  30. Fruit Kabobs mixed with Seafood
  31. Greek Triangle Puffs
  32. Grilled Eggplant and Gorgonzola/Crostini
  33. Grilled Seafood Flautas Recipe
  34. Ham Stuffed Biscuits with Mustard
  35. Japanese Izakayo
  36. Jumbo Lump Carp Imperial in Bouchee
  37. Jumbo Prawns
  38. Lamb Skewers with Blackberry and Shalot Horseradish
  39. Lobster and Mango Cocktail
  40. Lobster Profiteroles
  41. Macaroni Lollipops
  42. Marinated Artichoke Hearts Venezia
  43. Meat Filled Calzones
  44. Mediterranean Meze
  45. Mini Beef Fajitas
  46. Mini Caviar Parfait
  47. Mini Cheddar and Green Onion Quiche
  48. Mini Lobster Rolls
  49. Mini Lox and Bagels
  50. Mini Monte Christo
  51. Mini Pancakes with Blueberries and Strawberries
  52. Mini Pulled Pork Sandwiches
  53. Mini Reuben Sandwiches
  54. Miscarpone and Fig Bouchet
  55. Mozzarella Sticks
  56. Mushroom and Onion Turnovers
  57. Mushroom Caps with Stuffed Crab
  58. Oyster Rockefeller
  59. Pepperoni and Prosciutti and Mozarella on Crackers
  60. Pesto Coins with Cheese and Nuts
  61. Petite Cocktail Quiche
  62. Pigs in a Blanket with Potent Mustard Sauce
  63. Pinwheel Appetizers with Cream Cheese
  64. Pizza Bites
  65. Pot Stickers with a Sesame Sauce
  66. Quiche Lorraine
  67. Reuben Spring Rolls
  68. Roasted Pear and Bleu Cheese Filo
  69. Roasted Tomato and Olive Tarts
  70. Sausage and Apple Skewers
  71. Sausage Bundles with Meat Onion and Prattles
  72. Sea Scallops Wrapped In Bacon
  73. Sesame Chick with Spicy Apricot Sauce
  74. Shiitake and Portobello Mushrooms
  75. Shrimp Cocktail
  76. Shrimp Daviche
  77. Shrimp, Scallop and Lobster Kabob
  78. Shrimp Toast
  79. Skewered Chicken with Timbocca and Sage
  80. Skewered Pork Appetizers
  81. Skewered Tortellini with Parmesian Sauce
  82. Sliced and Toasted Bagulette
  83. Southwestern Egg Rolls
  84. Smoked Cheese and Pepperoni Cornucopia
  85. Smoked Salmon with Cognac Mayo/Crostini
  86. Spanakopitas
  87. Spanish, French, or American Tapas
  88. Spicy Buffalo Wings
  89. Spicy Marinated Flank Steak
  90. Spring Tarts
  91. Stuffed Deviled Eggs with Coconut Chutney or Caviar
  92. Stuffed Jalapeno Bites
  93. Stuffed Mushrooms with Crabmeat and Spicy Cream Cheese
  94. Summer Squash Tamales
  95. Sun-dried Tomato Cheesecake
  96. Tamale Balls
  97. Teriyaki Ribbon Chicken or Beef on a Skewer
  98. Truffles
  99. Twiced Baked Potato Skins
  100. Yummy Honey Chicken Kabobs

Make sure you review the catered list of foods and hors d'oeuvres before signing the contract, take note when final payments are due so the caterer can order the food. Also review if there are other supplies needed for the wedding, caterers sometimes have extra equipment, tables, and chairs. Make sure your wedding food is delicious, eye catching, and affordable! See you on the other side!

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1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on a successful event. I'm curious if you have found the opportunity to cater since and if so, did you find it easier the second time around?

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