Food Glorious Food

22 Jul 2011

Food Glorious Food

Say goodbye to parchment-dry sandwiches and queasy quiche, and hello to sushi and tapas. Jo Haywood reports on the latest in bridal buffets

Say goodbye to parchment-dry sandwiches and queasy quiche, and hello to sushi and tapas. Jo Haywood reports on the latest in bridal buffets

A chunk of rubber chicken is plonked down in front of you by a waiter with about as much finesse as an inebriated rugby prop-forward wearing boxing gloves. Not exactly a stylish finale to a perfect day, is it? People will talk about your wedding banquet for weeks, months, perhaps even years to come, so why not make sure they’re saying nice things about us’.

If you want a traditional sit-down chicken dinner, that’s fine. Just make sure it is the best chicken dinner you can find. If, on the other hand, you’re seeking something a little different, there’s a real smorgasbord of choices on the menu. ‘Giving your wedding guests an opportunity to try something just that bit different is what will make your wedding an event to remember,’ said Simon Phillips, who runs wedding sushi bars, handmaking parcels of deliciousness for wedding guests. ‘Unusual food should be at the forefront of couples’ minds when they’re planning their wedding. It’s a great way of getting guests to mingle and get to know one another. Believe me, sushi is a fantastic conversation starter.’

Inspired by Simon’s chic sushi - try saying that after two glasses of bubbly - we’ve put together ten tastebud-tickling ideas for unforgettable wedding banquets.



Even if you and your new in-laws put the Montagues and Capulets to shame, this is the perfect way of breaking the ice and getting everybody talking. And you don’t have to stick with fish either; chicken, veggies, sausages, whatever you like can be incorporated into those pretty little parcels. Simon has even been known to turn out hot beef and Yorkshire pudding sushi.


Just picture the scene: beautiful wicker hampers packed with succulent game pies, cheeses, luscious fruit and champagne, cashmere-soft rugs sprawled on a perfectly manicured lawn under shady oaks and you and your guests chatting happily in the late spring sunshine.


This is a very cost effective way of feeding your ravenous guests, particularly if you do a deal with your local butcher. It also provides a wonderfully relaxed and informal setting for your post-marriage get together, with guests free to move around and mingle instead of being seated at a particular table. Just remember that not everyone is a dedicated carnivore and a good range of fish and veggie options are a must.


You can save a heck of a lot of money by doing away with the main courses altogether and just offering your guests an array of canapés. To avoid looking tightfisted, you could mirror a four-course meal in your choices, with a starter of seafood-based titbits plus crudités and dips, followed by a main of mini roasted meats, then succinct sweet treats - fruit, chocolate, cheesecake - and finally a round of cheese-based delicacies.


This is probably the sort of thing Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall had at his wedding. It’s a very communal way of eating, with benches and long tables peppered with giant pots of steaming treats like curry or chilli for guests to dip in and help themselves. With plenty of bread, salads and sides, this can have a fun banquet atmosphere.


Nothing says ‘I love you’ better than a steaming plate of bangers and mash. Well, maybe not, but you’d be surprised how many wedding guests would breathe a sigh of deep appreciation if you welcomed them to your reception with fish and chips, pie and mash or good old bangers. You could, of course, give these shabby chic items a fresh twist by adding playful touches like chorizo, sweet potatoes, venison pie or deep-fried monkfish, but don’t feel as if you have to.


We’re not talking 1940s austerity here; this is all about the glam food that rocked our worlds in the seventies and eighties. Think updated versions of retro classics like prawn cocktail and black forest gateau and you’ll be cooking with gas.


These are both elegantly simple options if money is a little tight. The former can mean anything from a full English to scrambled egg and smoked salmon (although a bowl of Coco Pops would probably be frowned on), while the latter is all about dainty sandwiches, pretty cakes, clotted cream and, of course, glorious slices of wedding cake.


Like sushi, this is a very sociable way of feeding your guests. Just make sure there is enough for everyone - you might only give them a small tasting plate, but even the most abstemious will fill it up several times before the day is over.


Follow in Kate Moss’s slightly wobbly footsteps and make your wedding into a full-on festival with a band (she’s probably bagged Primal Scream, so you’ll have to make do with Blur), stalls, street entertainers and wagons offering everything from burgers and hotdogs to falafel and candyfloss. You could even encourage guests to bring their own tents and make a weekend of it. Just make sure your - ahem - bathing facilities are sorted, clean and plentiful. At the very least, make sure your mother-in-law has a key to her very own Portaloo so she doesn’t have to queue up with the riff-raff.


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