Ari Starkman of Sterling Caterers


Courtesy of Sterling Affair

The majority of your wedding budget will be spent on catering. Whether you serve a brunch or dinner menu, a buffet or formal sit-down meal, you want to make sure that you hire a caterer that will work with your budget to create a delicious meal for your guests. Sterling Affair, a full-service catering and event management company based in the tri-state area has been creating unique menus and settings for social and corporate events for over 18 years. We spoke with their General Manager, Ari Starkman—who has worked with some of today's today's most renowned chefs including, Jody Adams, Steven Starr, and Rocco D'Spirito—about what brides and grooms should look for when hiring a caterer, trends in catering and how you can really save money on your catering budget. Here's what he had to say: —Anne Chertoff

What are some trends in wedding menus?

Recently, a lot of brides are requesting miniature versions of comfort food with an upscale twist. The requests have been so frequent that we have incorporated items like these into our current menu; we now offer "truffled mac n' cheese bites" and "duck meatballs with plum jam" as standard hors d'oeuvres and they get selected for almost every event that we cater. There has also been a trend towards small tasting plates. We modify certain appetizers and entrees, such as Miniature Filet Mignon Welling with foie gras and mushroom duxelle scaling them down to two or three bites. Tasting plates are great for a cocktail hour station since they are prepared fresh by a chef at the buffet. Most of our clients love the interactive experience of watching a chef prepare more sophisticated dishes on the buffet. One of my favorites is our ceviche bar, where our chefs make fresh tortillas to eat with several varieties of ceviche such as Salmon with a Guava, Carrot, and Mint sauce.

For the reception, Duo/Trio plates are now the most popular items. This allows guests to experience different flavors and textures on the same plate. A popular appetizer that we serve is a trio of seafood with seasonal relishes: lobster, shrimp, and scallops are served on the same plate, each topped with a unique relish, giving the guests a new experience with each bite. For entrees, one of our most popular is a "Duo of Beef"; it is a petite filet mignon and braised Kobe short rib with a sweet potato hash, broccolini, & a red wine reduction

Can finding out your guests' menu selection on your RSVP card truly save you money?

The fact is that it can save you some money; however...

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