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Wedding Food Recs [moved from L.A. board]

I'm getting married in a little over a year, and it is my goal to have food that doesn't suck! I feel like most of the time it's cold, bland, and dry, which is something I really don't want. What're some of the best places you've had catered food? Also, what are some of the more interesting dishes you've had? I'm curious if anyone has had experience with something other than wedding cakes. Is it possible to have a good elegant looking desert that isn't cake? If it has to be cake I'm also curious about what good cakes you've had.

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  1. Can you include some rough price guidelines and any food preferences?

    1. Speaking to the dessert question, at my mom's second wedding, they had a small wedding cake for tradition, but the real dessert was Creme Brulee made in pastry cups served w/ huckleberries (done by the Four Seasons).

      I went to a wedding two weeks catered by Wolfgang Puck, and everything was really tasty. Definitely a pricey catering job, but if you can afford it...

      1. I got married last September and used Evan Kleiman's Good Food Catering. The food was incredible. You may know Kleiman as host of KCRW's "Good Food," owner of Angeli Caffe on Melrose and a leader of LA's Slow Food movement. We were totally opposed to chicken until we tried her rollatini. Her ricotta gnocchi is also delicious beyond description. The pizza is great. She's reasonably priced, but you have to rent equipment separately. We did family-style service.

        We actually got our wedding cake from the Viktor Benes Bakery at Gelson's, and again, it was very tasty and reasonably priced. We also had apple and blueberry pie. Our Good Food catering dinner menu is printed below:

        Welcome Stand: Pomegranate Limeade with Fresh Mint, Roasted Nuts
        Passing Appetizers:

        Freshly Shucked Oysters on the Half Shell
        Raspberry mignonette, chili sauce

        Mini Skewers of La Espanola Chorizo with Grilled Red Peppers and Red Onions

        Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella with Sweet 100 Tomatoes and Basil

        Pizza’s Pesto, Margherita, Salsicce

        Eggplant Croquettes with Arrabiata Sauce for Dipping

        Grilled Baby Lamb Chops with Pomegranate Glaze

        Baby Arugula, Belgian Endive and Radicchio with Hearts of Palm, Avocado, Sweet 100 Tomatoes and Toasted Pinenuts
        Balsamic Vinaigrette


        Grilled Pounded Tenderloin of Beef Served on Arugula with Leeks and Roasted Peppers

        Chicken Breast Rollatini filled with Ricotta and Spinach topped with Baby Tomato-Herb Saute

        Seasonal Vegetables-(grilled asparagus)

        Fresh Ricotta Gnocchi with Toasted Hazelnuts and Butter and Sage

        Angeli Bread


        Seasonal Berries
        Homemade Caramel Sauce and Homemade Vanilla Sauce for Pie

        1. we had our wedding catered by the Olympic collection...The food is awesome and very reasonably priced for what you get. They are very organized and professional.

          check out ocbanquet.com

          For hors d'oeuvres, we had a sushi station, a fusion station, 2 meat carving stations, an ahi carving station, 4 tray passed items including lamb chops, chicken skewers...
          wow, it was awesome!

          sit down dinner was choice of filet mignon or salmon.

          and a huge dessert buffet, including cakes and pastries from michel richard and creme puffs from beard papas(which I asked for).

          Ask for Kourosh. He'll take great care of you.

          Where is your wedding venue?

          1 Reply
          1. re: coco puff

            funny i had my sweet 16 catered by the Olympic Collection, and none of it was really special. true more reasonably priced than having Cynthia's do it (as was originally planned) but nothing noteworthy. in fact, the best part of the meal was the dessert - i brought in mini cobblers from Cynthia's.

          2. Generally speaking, the hors d'oeuvres are where you can have the most creativity.

            Besides cakes, individual desserts are common as our cupcakes. At my friend's wedding, they substituted the cake for a HUGE display of self-serve candy stations (like a small candy store). I've never seen people, especially adults, go gaga over candy before; it was quite a scene,

            1. I catered a wedding that had no wedding cake at all, but instead the bride and groom chose to have gorgeous fruit galettes. Not traditional, but they looked and tasted wonderful.

              1. @Frommtron: "Can you include some rough price guidelines and any food preferences?"

                No preferences as yet excepting that if I can get away with it, I'd like sushi. However, our budget for food could be somewhere between $4000-$7000 and we're expecting at least 120 people (is that reasonable?).

                @Coco_puff: We haven't decided on a specific location, but somewhere in the LA/Ventura County area.

                3 Replies
                1. re: memco

                  Pigs in a blanket. I can never have too many pigs in a blanket.

                  We have an extraordinary cupcake bakery here in Westchester -- Lulu's -- how about a cupcake cake?

                  1. re: memco

                    Does your budget include alcohol? Or is it just for food? Alcohol makes a big difference in the budget.

                    I did go to a wedding with a cupcake tower, and it was pretty tasty. I think if you don't want a traditional wedding cake, a tiramisu could be made pretty easily and cheaply as well. Problem with the tiramisu is that it generally contains alcohol, and I can see some parents not wanting their children to have it. And if your party has any former alcoholics, that's probably not the best dessert for them. I personally had a wedding cake, but it was a really dense, moist fudgy blackout cake, not the typical white cake. Went over very well with the guests -- because aside from a few people, who doesn't like chocolate? And while it's not my idea of a celebration, most people I know feel say there's nothing that says celebration more than beef.

                    I agree with dolores that pigs in a blanket generally go over pretty well. Perhaps you can do a chorizo pigs in a blanket. I'm not sure if crabcakes fit in your budget, but they are generally a crowd pleaser. And people also tend to like meat on a stick.

                    If you're going to have 120 people, there will most likely be at least few vegetarians. While you personally may not know any vegetarians, your friends/relatives may bring one as a guest. So I think it's good to have at least one vegetarian option in the hors d'oeurves. You can have vegetarian maki rolls if you want sushi.

                    1. re: memco

                      For 120 people, your $4,000 budget gets you around $33 per person, and your $7,000 budget gets you around $58 per person. It's good to keep the per person rate in mind, as that is how many places will price their menus. Does that budget include alcohol?

                      1. I recently got married and food was a high priority. Many of our guests commented that our food was the best they had ever had at a wedding, bar none.

                        We designed a menu that was simple but elegant, easy to serve family style, and not too temperature-sensitive. I think a big part of our success was that we chose to offer a fixed menu, with a vegetarian option available. Though this may have made a couple of picky eaters unhappy, it saved us a lot of money by saving the chefs time and decreasing waste. It also allowed the chefs to really focus on the few dishes that they did do. We also insisted on high quality ingredients - farmers market produce and pastured beef. The cost was higher, but the food really shone as a result.

                        I am really, really happy that we chose not to do a traditional wedding cake. I have never had a tiered wedding cake covered in fondant that tasted good. Instead, we chose to do a trio of regularly sized cakes. We worked with a local pastry shop and the cakes were beautiful. It was nice to serve cake, because we got to do the ceremonial cake cutting. More importantly, the cakes were absolutely phenomenal - our guests were raving about them. We also served a selection of Petits Fours.

                        Here is the menu:

                        (Passed Around)
                        Fava Bean Crostini with Pecorino Toscano
                        Duck Liver with Bing Cherry Compote on Toasted Challah (my favorite)
                        Fresh Anchovies with Radishes on Buttered Pan Di Mie

                        An Amuse of Halibut Crudo with Fennel, Onion and Ginger

                        Little Gem Lettuces with Avocado, Grapefruit, and Mint

                        Prather Ranch Short Ribs with Horseradish Salsa Verde (these were absurd - fall off the bone tender and so rich and flavorful. People went wild for them)
                        Wild Nettle Pudding Souffle (for veggies)

                        Spring Vegetable Ragout
                        Potato, Celery Root, and Parsnip Puree

                        Trio of Wedding Cakes
                        Chocolate Ganache, Pistachio, Apricot
                        Strawberry Lavender Angel Food (my favorite)
                        Bing Cherry Mascarpone

                        Petits Fours

                        In terms of alcohol, I have a few, brief recommendations:
                        -Serve prosecco instead of champagne. You can get much higher quality within the mid-price range, and most guests wont know the difference. We found an excellent prosecco for less than $15/bottle
                        -Get some Navarro Grape Juice for the teetotallers. It's a truly outstanding grape juice, and that way some of your guests wont feel left out during the toast. Even our wino friends were going nuts for this stuff.
                        -If you have any beer drinkers, get a keg of something special. We served Delirium Tremens, and it was the hit of the party. At $2/glass, it was a less expensive than the wine, but a lot more popular.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Morton the Mousse

                          That's a fantastic menu. Would you mind saying which caterer you used?

                          1. re: manraysky

                            Thank you! We were thrilled with it!

                            We worked with a chef instead of a caterer. I'm reluctant to post her info as she normally does not do events. We asked the owner of our favorite restaurant for advice, and he recommended his sous-chef (which was great, because he gave her time off right before the event so she could let those short ribs braise all day).

                            The drawback of using a private chef was that we had to do a lot of work. We organized all of the rentals, and coordinated dinner service, bussing, and bartending. Normally, caterers do this stuff for you. I would only recommend a private chef to the most hardcore of type-A couples.

                            The plus side was that we got to be really hands on in the menu planning. She was really open to our ideas and feedback, and was fantastic about taking an idea we had and perfecting it. We outlined the proteins and key ingredients we wanted to serve, and she turned that into a detailed menu. She came to our house to prepare a full sample dinner, which was a really nice touch. And of course, the food was far beyond anything I've encountered from a catering service.

                            1. re: Morton the Mousse

                              Thanks, that's really cool. I've done a bunch of catering in the area, and I'm always curious who is doing good work. Sounds like you found a winner!