Food for thought

Patty Howard of Kitchen Door Catering talks hors d’hoeuvres, vegetarians and dessert.

Patty Howard

We don’t want a sit-down meal, but we want our guests to be full. Any suggestions?
Cocktail receptions are a terrific option for couples looking to incorporate a wide variety of menu selections while keeping their reception informal and social, your guests can easily interact and converse while enjoying butlered hors d’hoeuvres and heartier stationed fare set-up around the venue. Butlered hors d’hoeuvres have come a long way—think pulled pork chipotle sliders on cheddar biscuits—we suggest eight to 10 pieces per person. Incorporate a few different stations, couples this year are choosing comfort food— think mac and cheese bar with Nova Scotia lobster or duck confit.

How do you design a menu inclusive enough for both vegetarian guests and those who enjoy their meat?
If you are hosting a plated dinner be sure to include a vegetarian entree that presents like the other entrees that are being served–white bean cassoulet with chevre and grilled vegetables plated and presented as beautifully as the beef tenderloin or salmon entree the other guests are enjoying. For buffets, we recommend 30 to 40 percent of the options be vegetarian—buffets are a great way to incorporate a large variety of vegetarian-friendly menu selections while pleasing the carnivores as well. Vegetarians love cocktail receptions as there is usually such a wide variety of food. We recommend at least 50 percent of the butlered hors d’hoeuvres be vegetarian.

What kind of dessert options would you suggest if we’re not serving wedding cake?
The trend continues with “petite sweet” tables but you can also do a pie bar with a selection of local fruit pies for your guests to choose from with a variety of toppings— cinnamon whipped cream, French vanilla ice cream or aged cheddar for the apple pie aficionado. For a more casual backyard affair why not an ice cream sundae bar with a selection of homemade ice cream and fun toppings? Cupcakes are still all the rage, pick ones with fun fillings—PB and J or zingy citrus curd. The sky is the limit.

Patty Howard is the executive chef and owner of Kitchen Door Catering Company. She is a culinary graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island and trained at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago Restaurant in Chicago.

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