A FEAST FOR THE SOUL
By Bethany Hayes
Amidst the endless festivities, bustling dance floor, feelings of connection and endless joy of a wedding, the food that you choose to serve your guests often acts as an extension of this very celebration – where the culinary tastes and triumphs of your partnership are presented for consumption. Essential to restore the energy of your guests, and enhance the celebratory essence of the event, a quality wedding meal that meets the dietary requirements of those present is one pure non-negotiable. Bethany Hayes sits down with culinary alchemist and director of A Moveable Feast Catering, Zac Wilkinson, to discern the very best ways you can bring an unforgettable wedding feast to life – one that you will be proud to serve to your loved ones.
PULL QUOTE: “There is no more sincere love than the love of food.” – George Bernard Shaw
With his early beginnings being in the field of science, it was after studying physical chemistry at university that a career in hospitality became the goal for Zac Wilkinson. Having trained as stagiaire at a number of restaurants, Wilkinson moved up the ranks to restaurant management throughout a range of high-end restaurants, as well as segue into the wine industry. Today, Wilkinson is the director of a trusted catering company, bringing global cuisine throughout Perth. “Catering is a natural fit for me … I’m a food and wine nerd with training across some great institutions and knowledge of all sides of the wedding industry,” he explains. “Catering allows me to share my passion and expertise, whilst not tying me down to one particular, limited role.” And it’s from these years of experience – and customising hundreds of wedding menus – that has Wilkinson bring the feast of many dreams into a brilliant fruition.
IT STARTS WITH A QUESTION
While many still associate the typical wedding meal to be a three-course plated dinner, Wilkinson confirms that this is surprisingly not the case. “There’s often a misconception that a three-course plated dinner, ‘Service a la Russe’ is somehow more traditional than say a series of banquet style courses, ‘Service a la Francaise’ – where the reverse is actually true,” he affirms. “At the moment, there is quite a trend to having a shared banquet-style of reception, often offering a single course with two or more ‘main’ protein dishes, and two or three side vegetable or salad dishes.” Today, couples have the option to completely customise their wedding menu – and indeed the function of the food at their wedding; be it the convenience of the grazing, cocktail style, or the decadence of a banquet-style reception.
Traditionally known as the ‘Wedding Breakfast’ – where, regardless of time, couples break the fast of their wedding, today’s wedding meals are available in a huge range of styles and options to serve, with the preference of the couple, and a conversation with your chosen caterer being paramount to this decision. Wilkinson explains that recently, he has witnessed many couples opting for smaller course meals – either plated or tapas-style, as opposed to set meals. Tapas affords a range of convenience for your wedding day – setting a relaxed, mingling tone, where guests aren’t left uncomfortably full. For Wilkinson himself, a cocktail style wedding is his dining option of choice. “I love the creativity afforded by a cocktail style wedding. As a guest, I love a sumptuous banquet with lots of different dishes over an extended period,” he says.
In the case of some couples, “the food is an afterthought” – and Wilkinson emphasises that his team like to establish early on, what sort of role the food will play in the celebration. “We elicit what’s important to the bridal couple, their families and discuss how this might work in terms of timing, staff and hire together with budgetary concerns and venue limitations and opportunities,” he notes. “Once the framework for the reception is locked in, this is reviewed over a meeting to ensure budget, timing and logistics are all amenable – then we start work on a bespoke menu.”
WORLD OF PURE IMAGINATION
The curation of a bespoke menu comes down to several different factors – including seasonal availability and of course, each member of the couple’s unique palate. “We send clients a detailed questionnaire together with some pointers so we can try to get ‘inside their heads’ and send a first iteration of a menu that might hit the spot,” the company director explains. This menu will then go back and forth between the team and the couple, ensuring that the final version is nothing short of magic, and that both parties are satisfied with the decided menu. It’s here, after the catering team gets to know the couple, where the creativity and culinary magic can really start to happen. “I personally love to help aspects of the relationship, the cultural background, food favourites and loathings shine through,” says Wilkinson. “And I love it when the fusion of two families can be illustrated by the menu.”
When asked about a particularly memorable meal request, Wilkinson flags a unique drink combination as standout. “One groom wrote that his favourite food was ‘bourbon and coke’ and that he loathed smoked salmon blinis at weddings – so we made bourbon cured salmon with coca cola caviar on a smoked cola blini,” he explains. “We’ve [even] followed a courtship from first terrible meal to proposal, finishing with a Rueben spring roll as the groom proposed in New York!”
MAKE IT YOURS
The beauty of working with a trusted catering team, is the ability to start with a blank canvas – painting and producing meals that are as unique as the couple themselves. An extended cocktail hour can be in lieu of a formal starter, while shared finger desserts as opposed to a plated dessert can help get guests onto the dance floor sooner; it’s all up to the vibe you’re seeking. It is essential, however, to make sure each of your guests are able to eat comfortably during the celebration, and that dietary requirements can be catered to. After all, where is the fun in having to skip dessert due to an intolerance?
“Rather than ostracise guests, we try to make everything suit as many guests as possible. If there are a number of coeliacs, we can use lupin to crumb arancini, make vegan substitutions at a particular point, provide a side dish in a banquet that acts as a main dish for vegan guests, or even produce separate dishes from our satellite kitchens to minimise any potential allergens,” says Wilkinson. And while decadent, detailed courses are always a highlight for the team to produce, fun, simple dishes replete with childhood memories such as “donut walls, fried chicken and fish & chips” remain ever popular at the same time.
Your wedding is a celebration of everything that makes up you and your partner – and the food you choose to serve is an embodiment of your celebration and tastes. Working collaboratively with a trusted caterer will not only leave you in excellent stead for a bespoke feast to remember, but it will also help to minimise stress during the day, knowing each guest – and each allergen – has been taken care of. It’s time to dig in!
Images courtesy of A Moveable Feast Catering