When less is more
Wedding receptions just aren’t what they used to be. While you may occasionally encounter traditional sit-down or buffet-style dinners, many caterers are offering the option of small plates and mini samples instead.
More often than not, the alluring landscape of the Lowcountry sets the stage for outdoor a airs, where guests would rather walk around and mingle than be stuck behind a table. It makes sense, then, that couples are planning menus that allow guests to pick and choose from a multitude of bite-size morsels.
“A lot of times, you will see high-top tables with some tables and chairs for guests who can’t easily walk around,” said Mary Schaefer, culinary program director of Virginia College in Jacksonville, FL. “Guests are conversing and walking around. It’s a more casual atmosphere.”
So what tasty treats are circling wedding receptions? For starters, anything on sticks or skewers, said Schaefer. From meatballs and lamb to grilled shrimp and veggies, guests enjoy having the chance to try a variety.
“People like that because they can try more,” she said. “It’s not like you have chicken or beef. It’s more fun. You can do so much more with appetizers.”
In the South, shrimp and grits continue to headline many wedding menus, and it’s a trend that spreading throughout other parts of the country.
“I have seen them done at an Asian restaurant. They did them tempura style and used a Thai curry sauce. It was out of this world,” Schaefer said.
Another rising Southern-style appetizer trend is shooters of oysters and pulled pork. Other diminutive dining trends include: mini grilled cheese paired with tomato soup shots; black bean soup with mini-chilled Casahas shots; mini-tuna tacos with mini-chilled limed margaritas; fish and chips with mini pints of beer; and mini gourmet pizzas served with mini pints of beer.
You may not find large buffets in weddings, but you will find mini buffets or action stations, Schaefer said. These food stations are manned by servers or they’re do-it-yourself. Some minibuffet trends include a couscous station with toppings; curry bar; deconstructed mac and cheese with truffle oil, jalapenos and chipotle crème; and a tuna bar with tartar and seared tuna with toppings, such as wasabi caviar, citrus caviar and avocado.
According to getmarried.com, catering trends also are targeting the not-so-complicated savories of late night munchies and midnight breakfasts: mini burgers and fries, mini grilled cheese, mini blueberry pancakes, mini scrambled eggs and mini bagels.