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February 4, 2020

Guest writer Meredith Parsons gives tips on catering for your big day.

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With engagement season upon us, we reached out to the best event and wedding planners in Utah to see what tips they had to make the catering at your big day the best it can be! Follow our 9 week series and see what they all had to say!    

Meredith Parsons from Bluebird Event Destination Management Meredith Parsons is the Owner and Creative Director of Bluebird Event Destination Management, a boutique event production firm specializing in bespoke events for destination weddings, corporations and social events. Celebrating 11 years with Bluebird, Meredith has cultivated an extraordinary team and a coveted list of vendors to deliver a seamless experience for guests that is at once personal, refined and timeless.

When you are planning your wedding reception, it is important to consider that you are curating the design of the entire event. 

Each detail including tablescape, catering rentals, food selections and style of service are paramount to the guest experience and aesthetic of the event. Collaborating with your caterer on the catering rentals for the tabletop and any other areas is critical to the success of your event.  Be certain to inquire about any pieces that may be needed for the tablescape in order to facilitate service, such as water liters, table stanchions, butter plates, bread baskets. These items may cause dissonance in the service to your guests and your design. I recommend keeping service elements like water liters and bread baskets to a minimum on the tabletop, if at all, and working with your caterer to ensure that service remains seamless in accordance with your vision.  This way you are able to enjoy the amazing floral and decor that you have arranged unencumbered.

Think of the menu from the point of view of your guests.

Your wedding is a great time to choose wisely food that has broad appeal.  Avoid things with supremely strong flavors that may be polarizing for some guests. For example, if you love bleu cheese on your salad, opt to serve it on the side instead of on the main salad. If you are allergic to onions, request a special meal for yourself and include the key component for the rest of your guests.

Be certain all vendors are on the same page for the timeline of the whole day.

The timeline is the organization of the flow of your event and the service. It is vital that you share that with your caterer and all other vendors. They may have suggestions that will facilitate a good flow and ensure food is hot and service is gracious. One key point is to plan for toasts carefully around the service of the entree. Most toasts should be done either right after the salad is served to all guests or after the entree has been serviced to all guests.  Caterers have a flow and precise timing to ensure fresh hot food is served to guests and that all the attention for toasts is focused on toasts when they are delivered.

When planning your timeline, use meals and food to help create a captivating audience.

The flow of food or lack of food will help direct your guest's attention. Great opportunities to use food to facilitate the timeline could be greeting your guests with a cocktail and hors d'oeuvre as servers direct them to the ceremony, planning a cessation of food service during toasts, and to have your caterer hold dessert until after cake cutting so all your guests don’t miss those special moments in your day.  

Select your style of catering service carefully.

There are many pros and cons to each style of service. Ask your caterer and planner for their thoughts and additional needs/costs to do a different style. Each event space can also limit you to the service style. The practicality of the style of service is an integral consideration for the success of your event. Don't forget to check in next week to see more tips!

January 28, 2020

Guest writer Michelle Cousins gives tips on catering for your big day.

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With engagement season upon us, we reached out to the best event and wedding planners in Utah to see what tips they had to make the catering at your big day the best it can be! Follow our 9 week series and see what they all had to say!

Michelle Cousins from
Michelle Leo Events 

Michelle Cousins, owner of Michelle Leo Events, is an award-winning event designer and planner enjoying her 10th year of business. Michelle's company has been recognized by Vogue, Brides Magazine and Martha Stewart as the best wedding and event planning team in Utah and the company recently received it's 9th Best of State Award for event planning and bridal services. Michelle loves planning events in the Rockies but as an avid scuba diver, you'll find her spending her free time in the Caribbean exploring the underwater world with her husband, Michael.

Make sure to discuss the wedding cake with your caterers.

The wedding cake is often provided by a specialist other than your catering team. While most caterers plan on cutting and serving your cake (along with providing the needed rentals/disposables to serve it), this service is something you need to verify your caterer is, in fact, planning to provide (never assume). And, be aware that additional costs may apply.

Our planners are often asked if it's necessary to hire a separate bar-tending service outside of the hired caterer.

Unless this is a unique requirement of the venue, we suggest allowing your caterer to handle all bar services. This way, all food and beverage services are provided under one contract. Furthermore, your caterer has a plethora of experience in determining what your alcohol quantities should be in ratio to your guest count. They are also knowledgeable of any and all state laws associated with alcohol services. Speaking of which, Utah has many unique laws regarding alcohol services so make sure to discuss these with your caterer to gain a firm understanding of what is and isn't legal when it comes to bar services at your event.

Don’t eliminate a caterer from your shortlist just because you dislike the sample menu on their website or the one provided in your initial proposal.   

Understand that you CAN customize your menu with a caterer (they expect it), and the first menu is simply a starting point to get ideas churning. Schedule time to sit down with your prospective catering team to discuss your tastes and preferences. In turn, they'll have many questions for you that will enable them to create a custom menu based on your likes and must-haves. Keep in mind these experts can help provide you with many options and suggestions that you otherwise would never consider so utilize them as a valuable resource in customizing the dining experience!

Design a menu that will enhance the overall event design.

At MLE, the custom event design proposals we provide our clients include suggested cocktails and food presentation ideas because we understand that the culinary experience is a crucial part of the overall guest experience. Food is as much design as any place setting or floral arrangement so don't forget to design your menu with the same care and discuss the visual presentation with your caterer to ensure things align with your overall event vision.

Respect the Process!

(This tip applies across the board regarding all vendor processes). You are responsible for making sure you understand a vendor's process once explained (ask questions if you need clarification- they want you to understand), and then allow them the space to do what they do best! Planners and caterers have executed thousands of weddings. They have perfected processes over the many years they have been in business and are pros at soliciting the right information and asking the right questions. Their goal is to provide you an incredible event design, the most delicious menu, and the best overall experience at a price that fits within your budget, but you have to let them! This requires faith and patience on the client's behalf as great things don't happen overnight. Don’t try to skip steps or rush your hired professionals, respect their process. Be patient and let them show you what they can do. They'll put their best foot forward when you trust them and allow them the time to do so!

Don't forget to check in next week to see more tips!

January 21, 2020

Guest writer Mara Marian gives tips on catering for your big day.

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With engagement season upon us, we reached out to the best event and wedding planners in Utah to see what tips they had to make the catering at your big day the best it can be! Follow our 9 week series and see what they all had to say!

Mara Marian from Fuse Events

Mara Marian is the owner of Fuse Weddings and Events, a boutique wedding planning and design studio specializing in destination Park City and Deer Valley weddings. With over a decade of experience in our local market, Mara boasts numerous industry awards, wedding magazine features and serves as the current Vice President of the WIPA Utah Chapter. 
 

Be sure to research your venue and confirm whether they have an in-house option you’re required to use, or if they allow outside caterers.

Be sure to also note that oftentimes, if they do allow an outside caterer, it’s from a preferred list. Although a preferred list can seem restrictive at first, think of it this way: the venue has essentially taken all the necessary research off your plate. Their list is packed with pros who are familiar with the venue and will be versed in the unique challenges of working there as well as having a proven track record of making the venue’s clients happy - if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be on the list.

Have a budget in mind, and don’t be afraid to share it.

There’s a common misconception in weddings that if you share actual budget, creative partners will exceed it. This leads to many clients mistakenly giving a lower budget than what they actually have to work with. This creates a lot of unnecessary wheel-spinning that could be avoided with an honest conversation. Sharing your honest budget allows the caterer to show you what they can do with your budget. If your caterer tells you something isn’t possible within a given budget, believe them. A caterer who isn’t afraid to say no will help you avoid potential disasters and disappointment later.
 

Listen to your caterer’s recommendations, and ask what their shining star options are.

If you’re working with a caterer to plan a polished but casual welcome BBQ, you’re going to want to select someone who’s versed with BBQ and has served such a menu many times. Asking a caterer to really step out of their wheelhouse is certainly possible, but it may not result in their best work.

Realize you can’t please everyone, and design a menu reflective of you and your partner.

That being said, don’t impose your dietary restrictions on others. Any reputable caterer can handle gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan and other requests, but that doesn’t mean your entire wedding should be subjected to it. You can work with your caterer to plan a menu that honors your dietary restrictions and preferences while also being mindful of the many others attending the event. 

Schedule a tasting, and if possible, have it in season.

Another common wedding misconception is the purpose of a tasting. Many clients imagine that a tasting is an opportunity to try the food, to determine if the caterer is the right fit. Although there is some truth here, assuming you’ve done the research and are working with the right caterer, the tasting is really about fine-tuning the menu you’ve selected on paper: do you prefer a chutney to a pesto, are the garnishes what you imagined, would you rather serve risotto or quinoa alongside the main - these are all things you can easily determine during your tasting. Having the tasting in season allows your caterer to present the most accurate version of the menu possible. For instance, trying your watermelon feta salad in March could be underwhelming here in Utah. 

Don't forget to check in next week to see more tips!

January 15, 2020

January Recipe of the Month: Quinoa and Winter Vegetable Stuffed Roasted Acorn Squash

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Ingredients

serves 4
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
2 acorn squash
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup onion (diced)
1/4 cup Brussels sprouts(chopped)
1/4 cup carrots(chopped)
1/4 cup kale(chopped)
1/4 cup turnips(chopped)
1/4 cup parsnips(chopped)
1/2 cup balsamic reduction
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Cut your acorn squash in half. Scoop out the inside of the acorn squash and remove pulp and seeds.  Oil, salt and pepper the squash and cook in an oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until tender.
Using a sieve, thoroughly rinse quinoa until water runs clear. Place rinsed quinoa and broth, and salt into a 4-quart saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to a low. Cook until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water, about 10 to 20 minutes. Remove the pot from heat, cover, and let the quinoa steam for 5 minutes.
Melt butter, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and diced onion. sautee until onions are translucent- 2-4 minutes. Add vegetables and garlic. Sautee until vegetables have a golden color on the outside and are tender in the middle- 5-7 minutes.
Toss quinoa and veggies together.  Salt and pepper to taste. Take this mixture and fill the center cavity of the in roasted acorn squash. Drizzle with balsamic reduction.  Serve hot.
Enjoy!

December 12, 2019

December Recipe of the Month: Candy Cane Danish

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Ingredients:
Dough
1 1/3 tsp Active dry yeast
1/2 c warm water(98-102 degrees)
2 oz brown sugar
3 TBSP  sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 oz eggs( 1 large egg and 1 yolk)
1 oz butter(melted)
11 oz all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of cardamom(optional)
for lamination
4 oz butter
1tsp flour
filling
1/2 cup of cherry/ raspberry/ strawberry jam
4 oz cream cheese
1 oz egg( the egg white from above)
3 TBSP of brown sugar
Icing
2 TBSP butter
1 cup powder sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1-3 tsp milk
Add Yeast and Sugar to warm water in mixing bowl- use your dough hook attachment. In a separate bowl, melt butter and add sour cream. mix until combined. Add vanilla and eggs to slowly add them to butter mixture. Add butter/egg mixture to your water. Mix just until combined. Add flour, salt, and cardamom. Mix until the dough pulls away from the sides. Refrigerate dough for 2 hours.
In the meantime, mix together butter and flour for lamination. Place in between two pieces of parchment and press into a 5x4" rectangle. Place in the fridge until the dough is ready. Butter should be cold for lamination but don't put in the fridge for longer than 30 min or it will be too hard.
You will now laminate your dough- see our last week's blog post for the in-depth instructions on how to do this.  3-4 turns for danish dough. About 1 less than you would do for croissant dough.
Refrigerate overnight
Pull out and roll out into a rectangle that is about 1/4" thick and about 18x8".DSC_0708
Take a pair of kitchen sheers and cut 1 1/2" strips on the long side of your dough. They should be about 3/4" thick. You should get about 24-30 on each side. Make sure to count so you have an equal amount for the pleating.
Mix together your favorite kind of red jam(Our pastry chefs use their homemade whole fruit jam!) And cream cheese, egg, and sugar. Set aside. The mixture should be kind of thick, similar to a filling for a cheesecake.
Using a pastry bag, pipe a stipe of your filling directly in the center of your pastry dough. Your stripe should be about 2" wide. You want a nice amount inside but not so much it explodes out of the pleating while baking.
Then you will take the strips you cut and alternating each side pleat them together. Make sure to kind of tuck them into each other and pinch so your pleats don't come undone while baking.
Once you have it pleated transfer to a parchment lined  sheet pan. Gently shape into a candy cane.
Let rest and rise until it has grown a little less than double. I like to brush mine with cream and sprinkle with turbonado sugar but that is optional.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Pull out and cool completely,
Mix together butter, powder sugar, vanilla and milk to make an icing and glaze over the top.
If you have any questions let us know! Happy Holidays!!
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20x winner Utah’s Best of State

16x Best of State Caterer

3x Best of the Best / Hospitality

1x Entrepreneur of the Year