Photo: Colin Cowie Weddings
Though your groom and your gown may be the first priorities on the perfect wedding checklist, a mouthwatering menu shouldn't be far behind. Incorporating your favorite comfort foods into your wedding menu is simply another way to make your big day pleasurable and personalized, even if the addition is as simple as mini cheeseburgers passed out on the dance floor of your reception. For brides who wish to give their weddings an intimate and welcoming feel with tasty bites and dishes, here are six expert-approved ways to bring deliciously simple recipes to a new level for your nuptials.
1. Make it miniature.
If you take the most decadent, child-friendly recipe and shrink the portion size, those same comfort foods look elegant and classy — plus, they're guaranteed crowd pleasers. "Everyone is into bite sized", says Amanda Smith, founder and owner of New York and Connecticut-based company Amanda Smith Caterers. "Miniature mac 'n' cheese bites, better with lobster, can either be made in a mold or served on a spoon."
2. Create a DIY station.
If your favorite comfort food involves the likes of ice cream or a particularly sloppy snack, Smith contends that creating a DIY station specifically for that cuisine is a smart and fun way to sneak in guilty pleasure dishes. "Dress it yourself like a chili bar or sundae bar where you have a lot of trimmings like sour cream, cheese, bacon, etc. for the chili and all imaginable for the sundae," Smith suggests.
3. Make your buffet "adult child"-friendly.
Another simple way to disguise comfort food as sophisticated fare is to create a chic, customized buffet that's mobile. "Now caterers can make the 'buffet' portable," Smith says. "A waiter carries a tray-type serving platter tied to him that actually holds the buffet." Alternatively, Smith suggests creating a station in which one chef is creating a number of variations on one classic dish. "We've had great success with our quesadilla bar, where a chef is making quesadillas of all flavors nonstop," Smith says.
4. Give traditional treats an avant-garde twist.
Nothing adds sophistication to simple childhood sweets like wacky and oh-so-cool molecular gastronomy, a feat which Executive Chef and Partner of New York's Cloud Catering & Events Tyler Lyne has conjured up for clients in the past. Love s'mores but want something a little more chic? Lyne accomplished this for one couple and, like a dish straight out of Top Chef, used chocolate mousse, liquid nitrogen and pitchers of hot 'smoked water' to give wedding guests the illusion of actually being at a campfire eating s'mores, complete with smoke-scented fog and the crackling of a fire. "It was a unique example of turning the simplest of comfort foods into something elevated yet unpretentious," he says.
5. Turn fast food fabulous.
Are fast food burgers and fries you and your groom's obsession? Incorporate your guilty pleasure into your wedding in a playful but chic way by revamping the dish. Lyne recalls a wedding in which the humble Big Mac became unexpected inspiration for the menu. After finding McDonald's recipe online, the chef assembled their own version with mini potato buns in the exact same order as the original: "Bun, sauce, patty, lettuce, bun, sauce, patty, pickle, lettuce, bun," Lyne explains. "It looked exactly like a Big Mac, sesame seeds and all. When [the clients] tried it, they lit up."
6. Distill the essential flavors of your favorite foods.
After discovering that one of his grooms adored barbeque chicken, Lyne made it his mission to refine the southern dish down to its essential flavors and channel them into an irresistible hors d'oeuvre. "First, we braised chicken in homemade barbecue sauce. Then we mixed the braised chicken with more sauce, adding methyl cellulose — which gels when hot and liquefies when cool. We poured [the mixture] into a mold, froze it, cut it into a cube, breaded twice, and deep fried when ready to serve." The result, Lyne recalls, was a "tot-like bite" and a burst of barbeque flavor in each mouthful.