Jennifer Lai is a frequent contributor for Huffington Post Weddings.
If there's one thing that guests are sure to remember about your wedding, it's the food.
In order to get some foodie inspiration for the big day, we asked contestants from all seasons of the acclaimed cooking competition show "Top Chef" one question: What dishes would you have on your dream wedding menu, and why? Whether you're into traditional wedding fare or want more of a culinary adventure, these chefs have offered up their best dishes and menu ideas for making your wedding day special.
Chef Sam Talbot (Season 2, Third Place): Executive chef at The Surf Lodge in Montauk, NY.
Butter poached lobster rolls with pickled celery ribs, bay scallops with warm radish toasts and blackened cherry tomatoes with smoked salt and citrus and the bride's oyster choice with sweet basil and bourbon mignonette. "These are elegant sexy bites that have some edge and ton of flavor. Just the right start to get everyone stoked on what's to come. Buying the freshest of seafood from someone you trust will really make you wow the crowd, then some hearty heirloom tomatoes and you're golden," says Chef Talbot.
Local bass with almond cream and lemon vinegar. "Local bass from Montauk when in season is beyond fresh and so delicious it's goofy. Using sprouted fresh almonds getting a nice roast on them and turning them first into a milk then reducing to a cream really adds a tame nuttiness to the fish that works brilliantly. I usually shave some asparagus and season with salt and the lemon vinegar, which adds so many layers of burst to the dish, it's great," says Chef Talbot.
Yam noodles with roasted squash, charred basil and ricotta squash blossoms. "These ultra light nearly carb-free noodles keep it really light and soak up the basil and squash flavors. Drizzled with a touch of oil and lemon at the end. The whole dish really combines perfectly for a light pasta course," says Chef Talbot.
Prime rib with Vidalia onions with greens and mushroom jus. "This dish brings it home with a great balance of flavor. It has got a classic look and holds its own on the plate with all of the prior seafood items," says Chef Talbot.
"Ha! I'm a Type One diabetic, but I would ask what the couple wanted and order it directly from the best!"
Champagne: Vintage Krug
Wine: Pinot Noir from Domaine Serene
Cocktails: Old Fashioneds
Chef Kevin Sbraga (Season 7, Winner): Owner and executive chef at Sbraga in Philadelphia.
An incredible, over-the-top raw bar made up of shrimp, clams, lobster, crab, oysters, crawfish, langoustine, caviar
Italian Wedding soup
A pasta course, maybe rigatoni with rabbit bolognese
Whole roasted pig with spring vegetables
"A very simple wedding cake that has some sort of almond butter cream incorporated into it—that's my favorite," says Chef Sbraga.
Chef Angelo Sosa (Season 7, Runner-Up): Owner and executive chef at Social Eatz in New York City.
Angelo finds inspiration in any type of food, but some of the major influences in his cuisine are from Asia, and as such his wedding theme and menu draw heavily from this region. Turning away from the concept of a sit-down dinner, Angelo would prefer the food be integrated into the decor of the event, adding to the overall flow and character, making it a fun and exciting way to enjoy delicious food. His reception would entail a series of "hawker stands" each offering a different type of Asian-inspired dish and displaying Thailand's vibrant and beautiful color palette.
Papaya salad with fresh crab, prepared in a mortar and pestle with the crab cracked open on top
Ramen with Chinese ham and dried shrimp. The longevity noodles would be pulled and prepared on the spot.
Fresh water prawn, grilled pork belly and thinly sliced fatty beef satay with a variety of offered sauces mirroring the bright colors seen in Thai culture—deep red of sweet and spicy Thai chili sauce, bright green of a Thai basil sauce, and the saffron yellow of a turmeric mustard sauce.
Freshly made summer and tofu skin rolls
Fresh fish caught and thinly sliced into layers of delicate sushi served with a kaffir lime sauce
Chef Mike Isabella (Season 8, Runner-Up): Owner and chef at Graffiato, in Washington, DC.
Heirloom tomato salad with stone fruits and feta cheese
Second Course (shared family style)
Roasted leg of lamb, tzatziki
Rockfish Santorini-style, with lemon, caper and parsley
Wild mushrooms with toasted almonds and dates
Roasted fingerling potatoes
Turkish coffee chocolate cake
Creamy lemon pound cake
Chef Dale Levitski (Season 3, Runner-Up): Executive chef of Sprout in Chicago.
"I am half Russian so I would start with a caviar bar. This would be before and during the small outdoor ceremony. Guests should have a drink in their hand," says Chef Levitski.
Composed canapes, buckets of all types of caviar and smoked roes, do-it-yourself station with smoked and cured sturgeon, trout and salmon, radishes, cucumbers, watercress deviled eggs, homemade crackers, crème fraîche and blinis. Served with Billecart-Salmon Rose Champagne.
Grilled steaks, whole roasted pig, Alaskan king crab legs boiled in a pit
Succotash, grilled veggies, crazy flavored Jell-O molds
"The reception would be a lawn party. The other half of my heritage is Swedish so the spread would follow the Swedish theme of the smorgasbord," says Chef Levitski. Oregon Pinot Noir Fiddlehead Sauvignon Blanc, Backyard Lemon Berry Mint Styrofoam Cooler Hooch
Truffles, eclairs, cheesecakes, cookies, fruit tarts, pâte de fruit, Swedish flop, petit fours, fresh fruit, chocolate tasting
"The after-party would be '70s style bonfire kegger of classic rock and disco with a midnight taco and churro truck," says Chef Levitski.
Chef Ty-Lör Boring (Season 9, 8th Place)
"I would have a morning wedding with a very light sit-down lunch. Guests would arrive for cocktails and appetizers followed by a sit-down light Italian seafood meal followed by cake and prosecco with a sweets table of assorted cookies."
Mini caprese salads, arugula-wrapped beef tenderloin, forest mushroom pizza bianco, fire-roasted eggplant arancini, parmesan popcorn frico nests, San Danielle proscuitto on flatbread with frutto d' autunno
Sit-Down Lunch Served Family Style
Asparagus risotto with pea tendrils, tomato water poached branzino with saffron and fennel, grilled black bass with lemons and ramps, larded potatoes from the oven with wild flowering herbs, spring pea crudo, grilled artichokes
Classic white vanilla wedding cake "The interior is made up of white layers filled and frosted with vanilla Swiss-meringue buttercream and then covered with more buttercream." Served with assorted Parisian macaroons and Italian cookies.
Chef Robin Leventhal (Season 6, 5th Place): Chef and founder of CRAVE Catering and Culinary Consulting.
French 75s and a craft cocktail bar
Crab claws with a saffron tobiko aioli. "Crab is my favorite food, and fish eggs are tiny jewels that symbolize a fruitful life," says Chef Leventhal.
Grilled apricots and taleggio in puff pastry with truffle honey. "Earthy and sweet, this bite will keep us happily grounded," says Chef Leventhal.
Gravlax-wrapped asparagus with preserved lemon, Shigoku oyster shooters, uni purses wrapped in nori. "Raw fish is sensual! Plus, as a resident of the Pacific Northwest, I am a huge fan of anything from the sea," says Chef Leventhal.
Terrine of ruby, Chioggia and golden beets with goat cheese and fennel pollen kiss. "They are beautiful sweet bites of love," says Chef Leventhal.
Smoked chilled duck breast and crisp duck confit with grilled escarole and pomegranate gastrique. "Hot and cold duck because these moments will happen in life ... but glazed in pomegranate, the relationship will not go to the birds!" says Chef Leventhal.
Sauterne-glazed figs and fois gras mousse ("My aphrodisiacs—let the rest eat cake!"), salted cashew-crusted mole caramels ("Crunchy and salty on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside")
Chef Grayson Schmitz (Season 9, 6th Place): Head of recipe development at Olivier Cheng in New York City.
Chef Schmitz described her dream wedding as an "early fall wedding in an old-fashioned Wisconsin apple orchard." Details include "wooden farm tables with white cotton linens, burlap runners and fresh-cut wild flowers in mason jars scattered down the long tables. Nestled between rows of apple trees, with whimsical white lights strung casually from tree to tree forming a beautiful canopy," says Chef Schmitz.
Sparkling wine with apple cider syrup
Brie croquettes with tomato jam and an arugula pesto dipping sauce, parsnip soup shooters with spiced gelée and a drizzle of chive oil, mini fried chicken and waffles with bourbon maple syrup, prosciutto-wrapped fig with aged balsamic vinegar
Arugula salad with sauteed wild mushrooms, La Clare Farms chevre, spice-roasted pecans, and bacon vinaigrette
Dinner (served family style)
Cider-glazed suckling pig (one pig per table), crispy chicken under a brick with a spiced pumpkin gastrique, pappardelle with sauteed wild mushrooms, parmesan, sage and a brown-butter sauce, creamy polenta, butternut squash and red beet gratin, sauteed, Tuscan black kale, grilled asparagus with shallot confit and crispy pancetta
Grandma Gracie's apple pie with vanilla ice cream, pumpkin pie with maple whipped cream and pecan streusel, fig and almond custard tart.
Homemade pumpkin jam and apple butter