Monday, 24 August 2009

Devon Weddings Sept '09 article: Serving Something Special

From your ring to your dress and your favours to your flowers, all factors for your big day are tailor-made to exactly how you want them. And the catering should be no exception.

Philippa Sayer of Sayers Catering has run her own catering business for a successful 25 years. She knows better than anyone else that the traditional fork buffet is becoming a thing of the past.

“People are increasingly opting for a meal to be served to their guests, rather than choosing the time-honoured buffet. The menu can be as diverse as the bride and groom like: there has been some very different and effective meals served in the past.” She says.

Huge platters of Fruite De Mer and baskets of home-made chips served to each table is just one example of a totally different approach to your wedding breakfast. With a choice of fresh and local lobster, crab, mussels, oysters, crevettes and langoustine accompanied with various mayonnaises and salads, this is a wow-factor dish which also allows the guests to hand pick what they desire, as well as spark friendly banter on each table.

Another hands-on approach is to provide each table with a leg of Devon lamb, with only an apron and carving knife for one guest to carve and serve to their hungry acquaintances. This option is a definite assault on the senses, with the sight, smell and taste surely leaving all with something to talk about for the rest of the evening.

For the less practical, individual pies of the bride and groom’s choice can be placed in front of each guest. South Hams beef and ale or fresh Salcombe fish and seafood are much-loved British fillings. Complemented by local, seasonal vegetables and topped with puff pastry or smooth mash, the mix of local ingredients in a national favourite will keep all your guests more than happy, and full.

Even the traditional wedding cake appears to be losing appeal. Philippa says, “The perfect alternative to fruit cake is a tiered chocolate dessert.” The rich pudding is engulfed delicately with white cigarillos, which are crushed as a topping. Decorated with flowers to keep in accordance with the floral decoration of the venue, after being cut by the bride and groom it is served with summer fruit and a mixed berry coulis.

“I feel it is important to use as much local produce as possible. But occasionally it is necessary to go further afield.” Philippa says. Intercontinental weddings often prompt a national or international search, with one example including specialist French goose livers needed for a traditional Frois Gras, served with pear chutney.

Keeping with the worldwide theme, canapés can be an interesting way for your guests to take just a small taste of a different country. Peking duck pancakes with spring onion and cucumber are a mouthful of China, whereas little Thai fishcakes with a sweet chilli dipping sauce are always a hit.

That is not to say that the local canapés are dull: they are far from it. Fillet of beef on a crisp croute with a mustard mayonnaise, or even warm sausages with the same accompaniment are hounded by guests to go with their champagne at the pre-dinner gathering, whereas local crab in delicate home-made filo baskets are sought by the eagle eyed. Sourcing local produce not only creates a talking point for your guests, but also installs confidence in that you’re providing the freshest food possible.

The traditional wedding seems to be shifting rapidly, with precedence given to what the bride and groom want to taste, rather than what the guests are expecting. Of course the traditional wedding buffet is a certain way to give your party exactly what they’d like, but for something that will be remembered, give your menu some thought, and try something different.

Philippa Sayer has run her business from Churchstow, Kingsbridge for 25 years. Visit her website at, or ring her on (01548) 856714.

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