You really can have a healthy wedding!
Organic. Natural. Gluten-free. Rustic. Bespoke. Artisanal. In today’s world, the language that’s used to define food can be overwhelming. What exactly does “organic” really mean? Why are rustic croquettes something you should care about? What, exactly, is a bespoke wedding cake?
Jeanette Maier, owner of Fancy Girl Table—a full-service company that provides artisan catering and event design—sat down with us to chat all things “fancy wedding food.” As a business owner who cares deeply about the health and happiness that a wholesome meal is capable of providing, Jeanette has devoted her career to teaching others about the benefits of healthy eating, why quality matters and, most importantly, that it’s possible to create an innovative, customized wedding menu that supports local, organic farms in a sustainable, earth-friendly fashion.
Sometimes, couples can become overwhelmed when it comes to planning their wedding menus. What advice do you have to help them narrow down their decisions?
We always ask them to think about what they like to eat, or what their favorite restaurants are, to give us an idea of what they would enjoy on their special day. Then we design the menu around that. It’s also important to keep it balanced and not present them too many choices. Their menu is an edible expression of who they are and what they love.
The way food is presented at a wedding is as important as the quality of the food. When a couple chooses their menu, do you work with them to also consider the “long-term” presentation of the menu items and help them select what will both look good and taste good?
Food presentation is as important as taste. When the couple chooses the items they want, we go through and make sure their menu is well rounded both visually and in terms of flavors. At Fancy Girl we always want the presentation to align with the design of the wedding, so we choose platters that lend themselves to the overall look, and also incorporate edible floral and herbal garnishes that are in keeping with the color scheme.
Allergies and intolerances (as well as plain old picky eaters) can make the planning of a wedding menu turn into a headache. How can you help couples make sure that their guests will be happy without sacrificing their own happiness?
More and more guests are on special ‘diets’ these days. Fancy Girl has created hors d’oeuves and dishes that will accommodate their needs but won’t taste like ‘special diet’ food to everyone else. We make a list of all the menu issues and incorporate them into one item whenever possible. For example, our Eggplant Porcini Meatballs satisfy the need for vegetarian and gluten free diets. For nut allergies we might substitute toasted sunflower or spiced pumpkin seeds. For the picky eaters, visual appeal is very important. Picky eaters don’t like fussy, intimidating food so we create food that looks easy to eat to entice them to give it a chance. We sometimes create more elegant versions of their favorite “comfort foods”. We don’t see these issues as a problem, and that helps alleviate that stress for the couple.
What advice do you have for couples who are on a budget, but still want to have delicious (and beautiful) food at their wedding?
There are two important categories that add expense: the bar and the rentals needed, like plates and linens.
There is quite a savings if they purchase their own alcohol rather than having the caterer provide it. Most wine stores are great at calculating the amounts needed and often will take back the unopened bottles. That way there is no waste. Fancy plates and linens can really eat up a budget. By keeping these items simple, the savings can go into the food budget.
Lastly, focus on quality not quantity: you don’t need passed hors d’oeuvres plus food stations plus dinner to satisfy all. By keeping the menu smaller, a couple can stick to their budget and not diminish quality. Simple, yet elegant wins every time.
Are there any 2014 wedding food trends that you think are going to be big this year?
Family-style service. This has been a growing trend, but it will continue as a more intimate way of serving your guests. It saves money for the couple as well because it requires fewer servers than a plated style dinner. It is much more elegant than a buffet, and the food can become the table centerpiece.
Colorful cakes, naked cakes, small cakes. The traditional wedding cake has been on the decline for a few years now. Couples have been choosing tiny desserts such as little cups with trifles and puddings, with just a small version of a wedding cake for the cutting ceremony. Cakes are often not white now, but have colorful frosting. The newest trend is the naked cake, which is not frosted on the sides. This is more rustic looking and follows the trend toward more casual weddings.
Healthier food. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free foods that look beautiful and taste delicious. At Fancy Girl we pride ourselves on creations that don’t sacrifice taste, so the fact that they are vegan or gluten-free isn’t an issue for the guests; they just think it tastes great and enjoy how creative it is.
More casual weddings, like the picnic wedding and the rustic wedding. Less fuss and extravagance, with a more eco-focused approach to the style and ambiance of the event.
Jeanette Maier is a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute, former owner of New York City’s preeminent organic restaurant Herban Kitchen, and private chef to a host of distinguished clients.
Emily Gable is the associate editor at Equally Wed, the world’s leading gay and lesbian wedding magazine. For more wedding inspiration and marriage equality news, follow Equally Wed on Twitter and Facebook.
Photos courtesy of Fancy Girl Table