wedding food reception venue

A fresh focus on food....the modern wedding feast

In the wake of Masterchef, My Restaurant Rules, My Kitchen Rules and a host of celebrity chefs with top rating TV shows, we've never been so focused on food.

Of course the wedding dress and the venue are still top priorities but guest expectations of the wedding feast aren't what they used to be.

The food you serve accounts for a significant proportion of the total wedding budget so it pays to put some thought and preparation into it to ensure you're happy with the end result, there's no fuss over food on the night and your guests are talking about it for weeks to come.

The first step once you've booked your venue or private caterer is to meet the chef. Remember the Executive Chef is often the public face of the kitchen and not necessarily the person who'll be picking up the fry pan on the day so it's perfectly ok to ask to meet the chef who will be in charge of preparing the wedding feast at your reception (just remember they don't all look like Curtis Stone and have Jamie Oliver's personality!)

While we'd all love to be able to serve a unique meal which is full of flair, depending on your venue and numbers it's important to be realistic. A crowd of 200 who receive their fancy feast an hour late and overcooked will not care that it's an original creation using organic ingredients flown in from Tasmania. They'd much prefer a flavoursome favourite which is served hot, on time and perfectly prepared.

The bottom line here is: listen to the chef.

Sure, share your vision and indicate the style of menu you'd like to serve but remember the chef knows best. They will know the limitations of the kitchen - and your budget - and make suggestions accordingly. If it's less avant garde than you expected there's a reason for it.

About three months before the wedding you should book a tasting date (to allow enough time for a second tasting if required). Most venues offer this as part of the package when you book, if they don't - ask if they'll include one.

The tasting meeting should include you and your fiancé, the executive chef, banquet manager and wedding coordinator - if you have one. Often people bring their parents and in-laws but make sure you don't bring too many people along to cloud your thinking.

Arrange to taste two or three options for each course and check the meal presentation on the day will be as it is during the tasting. Ask for photographs of meals from previous weddings, many venues or caterers will have them and it will not only give you a sense of their style but also a visual reference point.

Be assertive. Make suggestions, ask questions and pay attention to detail. If you want ice-cream served with dessert rather than cream - say so. If you think a meal needs a garnish - say so. You get the picture. Disappointment on the day is the last thing you need.

Remember the saying: eat, drink and be merry. Don't forget the drink. Ask to taste the food with the wine you'll be serving on the night so that you're familiar - and happy - with the entire experience.

Once you've made your final selections don't be afraid to write a checklist for the Executive Chef or Banquet Manager. They won't take offence or label you a bridezilla, they'll probably appreciate your organisation and be happy to have your stipulations on paper. Every extra phone call and email ahead of time helps ensure you spend the night on the dance floor and out of the kitchen.

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