Thursday, December 14th, 2017

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Local, more healthy fare found on today’s wedding menus

Today's newlyweds are more concerned about the dietary restrictions of their guests and more aware of sustainability issues.

Today’s newlyweds are more concerned about the dietary restrictions of their guests and more aware of sustainability issues.

By CYNTHIA SCHUSTER EAKIN

Times change. Tastes change. And, when it comes to the changing dining tastes of today’s wedding couples, caterers are expected to adapt.

Today’s newlyweds are more concerned about the dietary restrictions of their guests and more aware of sustainability issues, according to two of Cleveland’s foremost wedding caterers.

“Couples do care a great deal about using products that are sustainable and local, especially with us, because we are known for that,” Chef Doug Katz of fire food and drink, the Katz Club Diner and Provenance at the Cleveland Museum of Art said. Katz is an advocate of sustainable food systems that use healthy and local ingredients. “There is a lot more focus on dietary restrictions and food allergies. We try to offer gluten-free, lactose-free and vegan options throughout our catering menus.”

“We recently catered an entire vegan wedding meal and the protein was never missed,” Katz said. “Using spices can incorporate flavor into vegan foods. We try to feature more ethnic foods. They have such great flavor because of the spices in the recipes. Couples really want the food to be creative and they focus on quality.”

“Rehearsal dinners differentiate from wedding meals by being less formal, with more of a grazing menu,” he noted. “You can create a tasting menu with small plates. A number of couples have chosen to have their rehearsal dinner in the bar car at the Katz Club Diner, with fun, old-style, handcrafted cocktails and music.”

“Wedding dinners have also become less formal and more fun,” Katz added. “You can set a great lawn table in a backyard or a beautiful dinner in a barn. Although, budget-wise, it can be more economical to serve dinner in a space already set up for it. Then, you can spend more money on music and other considerations, rather than the dinner set-up. People sometimes choose buffets for the variety of food and because they think it’s more economical. It’s actually more costly. Sit-down is always easier because the kitchen knows exactly how much to prepare.”

Chef John Taylor of Executive Caterers at Landerhaven said green and local has become a way of life. “We saw this trend start a few years ago with catering that we did for nonprofit fundraisers and it has been trickling down through the culture since then,” he said. “It’s part of our whole fabric now. Using local ingredients is also a great way to introduce out-of-town guests to local flavors. You can choose to serve a combination dish with Lake Erie walleye, for example. Combination dinners for special events are still big. People like to offer their guests a choice by serving a dinner of meat and fish. Guests don’t always respond when offered a menu choice with their invitation. So, two different entrée choices on one plate is a good idea.”

“We also see wedding couples trying to make healthier choices for their guests. They might choose to serve two vegetables as opposed to a starch. We’re seeing more requests for vegetarian selections. We are always mindful of allergies and dietary concerns. When preparing a special meal, we try to make the plate look as much like the others as possible, so that guest feels included in the party and not exclusive,” he noted.

“Rehearsal dinners are more intimate and more fun,” Taylor said. “Couples like to have something about the dinner reflect their personality. They may decorate the tables with childhood pictures. Or, if they got engaged on a tropical island, they might choose to serve a tropical food. The rehearsal dinner brings two families and two sets of friends together and introduces them to the bride and groom.”

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