THE CULINARY PRO
Natalia Rusin, culinary nutritionist, Rouge Tomate, New York, NY
"Deciding to host the reception at Rouge Tomate helped everything fall into place. The restaurant is all about using local, seasonal food, so that became the theme of our menu. I also wanted the menu to reflect my fiancé's and my taste, and allow our guests to try new things.
"I knew I wanted to do a sit-down meal, so we decided on a four-course tasting menu. I figured with four courses, there would be enough options for people to 'eat around' anything they really didn't like. It worked out great, because with no 'safe' choices, guests were more willing to try something they normally wouldn't eat, and ended up enjoying it!
"For each dish, the chef and I figured out what would be feasible budget- and time-wise. We had to take into account the kitchen space, the amount of staff, and the number of people being served, which limited our options. For example, I knew I couldn't serve anything that would take too long to prepare. I wanted to serve lobster, our favorite, for one of the courses, but because we were going to have 175 guests, cracking all the shells would have taken too much time. The solution we came up with was to serve chilled local corn soup with lobster as a first course.
"We knew that after four courses, people probably wouldn't be immediately hungry for dessert. So we thought it would be fun to set up a huge buffet of treats near the dance floor. And for favors, we handed out peelers as a way to encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables!"
*Photos: Missy Photography *