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Mar 12, 2008 03:26 PM

Self-catering our wedding?

Hi there -

Yes, I know that this may sound crazy, but I was a chef for several years, just not in NYC. I feel like I can get the food together for 100 people, save money and have good food. Most importantly, have good food and not feel like I am spending a premium for food that I could do myself.

That said - any suggestions are very welcome. I may just be crazy, but we are having 100 people at our backyard in Brooklyn.

All of the food will be done in a cocktail hour style with 4 different barbeques going.

We are especially concerned with waitstaff, hiring a cook for the day to do all of the finishing and maybe some other things I haven't seen yet. I'd like to know about resources in Brooklyn & the area as well.

This isn't a glamorous affair - I'm a school teacher and my fytyre wife works in non-profit. We want to have fun and not go broke.

We're planning this for July of this year. Any ideas?


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  1. Do it! seriously. dont pay anyone else unless it's your sous or cook that you trust.
    DIY weddings are so easy and should be done more frequently.
    I charge my friends cost and that's it for their weddings. (i am a professional chef as well) and they totally appreciate it.
    no worries, and your friends will appreciate the NON-WEDDING tasting food and the thought put into it.
    awesome idea!

    2 Replies
    1. re: bnafff

      Yeah - we're sold on the idea & moving ahead and planning it.

      The only thing I'm worried about is if there's anything I might not be thinking of. I just don't have anyone down here that I know well.

      Is there anything I might be missing?

      I also need to know good suppliers. Any suggestions for good reasonably-priced seafood?

      1. re: luckycat

        How about fish tacos? You could grill the fish, have someone frying the tortillas, you can make the Mexican slaw ahead of time (grated cabbage, cilantro, garlic, fresh lime juice, jalapeno, veganaise, minced purple onion, and cubed avocado), and grill a firm fish like tilapia or marinated shrimp.

        You could also have a pot of black beans going, a homemade Spanish rice, the fish tacos with the Mexican slaw, and big wedges of papaya with fresh lime. Good dancing food!

    2. I self catered my wedding. I did have help from my brother to heat up the food. We had grilled beef tenderloin, crabcakes, pork roast, roasted potatoes and green beans. We made everything the day before (except beef tenderloin) and just heated it up the day of. I also made tomato-basil bruschetta & a spinich-artichoke bruschetta along with a boring veggie tray for cocktail snacks. I went very well and in the area I live in, I never would have been able to find a caterer to do that menu. All the caterers in our area do ham & roast turkey and halupkies as entree options.

      1. Some years ago for our wedding reception, my husband and I armed ourselves with two 35" paella pans and one 17" pan for about 100+ of our family and friends. Keep in mind that my husband is an operating engineer (crane operator) and I am an executive assistant for an engineering company. I've always enjoyed catering on an informal scale and thought this would be an opportunity to test myself. Of course, our families thought we were nuts.

        We cooked up one seafood paella, one chicken/chorizo paella for those who didn't like or were allergic to seafood, and the 17" pan of vegetarian paella. Everyone loved watching the "cooking show" and would jump in to help add the calamari, chicken, wine, etc. The interaction was so fun.

        We thought we had a good tapas selection of serrano ham, manchego cheese, stuffed piquillo peppers, papas fritas with alioli, fried padron peppers, Cesar salad with a Spanish twist, but noooooo ... my family heaped on trays of lumpia, pancit, barbequed baby back riblets with a tangy Indonesian glaze, musubi, California rolls. Our Spanish-themed menu went international - so be it! There was sangria, champagne, beer and cocktails flowing throughout the evening. Everyone had more than enough to eat and drink.

        We hired a group of jazz musicians to play for us and they were amazing. They played for four hours, we fed them and gave each of them a wedding favor. They were touched by our thoughtfulness, as they were used to being treated more like the "help". Our reception happened to coincide with a centennial celebration of the city we live in, so we also had a fireworks display to end a very special event.

        Our families and a couple of friends stayed afterward to help clean/tidy up and it was done in no time. No meltdowns, no worries. If we had to do it all again, I don't think there is anything we would change. Everything went pretty smooth - except that I almost forgot to put the fish in the paella!

        1. I almost forgot - congratulations and best wishes to you both!

          1. I am also a Chef and catered my own wedding 2 yrs ago. At first I insisted that I wasn't cooking for my own wedding, but I was in denial. The more I interviewed caterers the more I realized I was going to spend a lot of money on food that wasn't even close to mine and bitch about it all night long. Wasting a lot of money and then complaining about it didn't seem like an ideal situation. However, my wife was adamant that i wasn't going to be in the kitchen all night at my own wedding. What to do?

            I came up with a menu consisting of 14 "small plates" (plus 7 or 8 desserts that were done ahead of time) that were all room temperature. In other words everything was done by 3am and I enjoyed my wedding like anyone else.

            The food has since become legendary with those (65 guests) who attended.