Let them eat cake...

The Herald Business - - Catering - Nuala Naughton

EVEN the choco­late foun­tain has found its way on to the menu of the wed­ding caterer, as cou­ples strive to of­fer their guests treats that are ever more ex­otic or fash­ion­able.

Most cater­ers will be able to source a large ver­sion of the latest culi­nary must-have and there are now some very high qual­ity va­ri­eties of white or milk choco­late, as well as op­tions such as bright red coulis foun­tains – and even punch or cham­pagne ver­sions.

This re­flects a grow­ing de­mand for cater­ers to take their lead from a more dis­cern­ing and food savvy client who is no longer pre­pared to sim­ply choose from a few avail­able op­tions with­out any per­sonal in­put into the de­tails of the menu.

With more peo­ple eat­ing out than ever be­fore, and the ubiq­ui­tous celebrity chef TV shows, cater­ers are hav­ing to raise the bar in terms of what they of­fer guests for the wed­ding fayre.

Cater­ing ex­pert Jamie Lan­dale, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the events and cater­ing op­er­a­tion Wild-Thyme, says much of the ad­vance­ment in high spec cater­ing is down to a grow­ing shift in re­spon­si­bil­ity for plan­ning and fund­ing the wed­ding cel­e­bra­tions.

“Tra­di­tion­ally, the par­ents of the bride would fund the whole wed­ding with the groom’s par­ents per­haps of­fer­ing to help in some ar­eas,” he says. “How­ever, many of our clients are high earn­ers work­ing in the City and com­ing home to Scot­land for a tra­di­tional cel­e­bra­tion.

“Quite of­ten, they may have a joint in­come far in ex­cess of that of their par­ents, and in want­ing their spe­cial day to be per­fect in ev­ery de­tail, they are quite pre­pared to take on the ex­pense and the or­gan­i­sa­tion of the whole event so as to get ex­actly what they want.

“Par­ents may have the con­sid­er­a­tion of want­ing to give their daugh­ter the best they can while be­ing aware that they may have an­other three daugh­ters to send down the aisle over the next few years, whereas the cou­ple them­selves only have their one spe­cial day to ar­range and they want to make the most of it.”

In food terms, any­thing goes, and cou­ples no longer re­strict them­selves to the tra­di­tional. One cou­ple on the Isle of Bute re­cently cel­e­brated with an en­tire Moroc­can theme, with food served in au­then­tic tagines, red crys­tal gob­lets, Per­sian rugs and wall hang­ings.

Themed wed­ding din­ners ex­tend to co-or­di­nated colour sto­ries in­cor­po­rat­ing flo­ral ar­range­ments, linens and table­ware.

An­other grow­ing favourite for an in­ti­mate sum­mer wed­ding, of up to around 30 guests, is a pro­fes­sion­ally-catered pic­nic on the grounds of a private es­tate hired for the day, with cro­quet on the lawns (and wellies and brol­lies in the car boots!).

Cakes, too, are de­vi­at­ing from the norm with many cou­ples opt­ing for a huge five tier ar­ray of spe­cial­ist cheeses.

Oth­ers might plump for a deca­dent dark choco­late and fon­dant con­coc­tion, and a par­tic­u­lar favourite this year is the ‘croque en bouche’, a gi­ant cone of cream-stuffed prof­iteroles piled high and driz­zled with rich dark choco­late sauce.

“My favourite re­quest re­cently,” re­veals Jamie, “was from a cou­ple who wanted a gi­gan­tic creme brulee. Rather than cut­ting the cake, we gave them a small sil­ver ham­mer to smash through the brit­tle sug­ary top­ping.”

Jamie’s ad­vice to cou­ples strug­gling to de­vise a menu that will cater for the tastes of all of their guests is sim­ple – in­stead of wor­ry­ing about how many guests will want fish and who doesn’t like chicken, think about what your own favourite dishes are and work on that. Any in­di­vid­ual guests with spe­cial re­quire­ments can then be catered for.

Just re­mem­ber, it’s your day and guests are usu­ally happy just to be there to help you cel­e­brate. Of course, if there are any spe­cial di­etary cir­cum­stances, such as a guest who has a nut or shell­fish al­lergy, make sure the caterer knows – and find out who’s veg­e­tar­ian.

Other than that, the rule of thumb is to just please your­self ... within your own bud­get.

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