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Catering Tips from Michael Stuart NY Part II

Wedding Planning

Here comes part II of our special focus on wedding catering from Michael Stuart NY! Michael tells us what the current trends in the food world are, and imparts some wisdom on the new popularity of specialty drinks…

wedding menu

We keep finding over and over again that young people want casual and fun; traditional seated dinners are just generally not what couples want these days. We do far more proposals for family style dinners than any other format, and for us it fits our style, philosophy and aesthetic to a T. Family style dinners are so casual yet intimate; it just seems like a perfect fit for the visions of the couples that seem drawn to us. We have been playing around with some new ideas for stations during cocktail hour and dessert recently, but trying to come up with new and interesting ways to provide more food without having to increase staffing is always a challenge. A couple of our favorite new stations are the olive oil tasting bar and the “toast bar.” For the olive oil tasting we provide a variety of regional and unique olive oils, artisanal bread, and other accroutrements that make great flavor combinations without overpowering the olive oils. The toast bar is our version of a tapas bar; with fresh bread and flavorful toppings such as chickpeas & spinach with saffron & smoked paprika, chilled shrimp with serrano ham & pomegranate, & organic English peas with romesco & mint.

We love to take our favorite comfort foods and spin them into unique hors d’oeuvres. Some of our favorites are the truffled steak & eggs, mini baked potato, shrimp & grits, & falaffel burgers. Our philosophy behind our food is to keep it creative yet accessible. By not trying to reinvent the wheel and using what is fresh and seasonal, we can come up with new combinations of simple, delicious food without scaring people off with obscure ingredients. Generally, with passed hors d’oeuvres we follow a rule of ten per person per hour. This ensures that we provide enough for everybody to taste each item and have extra in case a cocktail gets extended. For variety, we recommend six to ten options in order to keep it interesting and give guests a chance to sample a variety of flavors without getting bored.

wedding bar

Specialty drinks have become a very popular way for couples to impart particular tastes and styles to their wedding. We recently had a couple do a bourbon cocktail with blood orange, bitters and sugarcane. They named it love potion 309 (their building address). With the resurgence of bourbon as a drink of choice, we have been putting together an all bourbon specialty cocktail list for the spring and summer. Some of our clients’ other favorites are homemade ginger ale, spiked sweet tea and a spiced pear cooler with fresh ginger, lemon zest, pear vodka, pear nectar, lemongrass, & a cinnamon stick.

Michael Stuart NY is a member of Blue Label.

photo credits: top image, Apryl Ann; last, Aregrayline

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Catering Tips from Michael Stuart NY

Wedding Planning

Last month, we brought you expert advice on dessert bars from My Sweet and Saucy. Next in our series of tricky wedding quandries: selecting a wedding caterer. Aside from the joyous moment when you and your groom are pronounced husband and wife, the food might just be the most anticipated element at your wedding. Because of this, the search for catering can lead to many stressful discussions and decisions. Luckily, our good friend Michael of Michael Stuart NY has a few words of wisdom to make this task a little less daunting. We asked Michael what questions engaged couples should have ready for their potential caterers:

Since most wedding caterers handle so many facets of wedding production, such as staffing, rentals, bar, and coordinating with other vendors, the sheer volume of details can be daunting. We pride ourselves on developing personal relationships with our wedding clients, so they will feel comfortable coming to us with any questions or concerns they may have.

wedding reception menu

Here are a few questions to ask that will help in narrowing down your choice of caterer:
-Ask how many food passers they are providing per guest. Ideally, we like to have 1 food passer per 25 guests; 1 per 40 at the very LEAST. Many people don’t have the budget for a caterer to provide that many food passers, but anything under 1 per 40 guests is not enough food for such a short time span.

wedding reception menu

-Ask if they have worked at the venue where you are getting married, and for references from clients who were married at that venue.

wedding reception menu

-If you are booking your caterer far in advance of your wedding, ask who will be your contact person for the entire process. Your account manager and possibly an assistant should be the only people you deal with from your caterer during the whole process. Make sure the person who does your proposal and tasting isn’t going to just hand you off to someone else once you hand in your deposit.

wedding reception menu

-Ask for other vendor recommendations, but never feel like you have to use those recommendations. You will generally find that groups of vendors like to work with each other, whether it be rental companies, florists, lighting, or décor. Be wary of any caterer who only tells you they work with a certain vendor, especially when it comes to rentals. While most rental companies generally have most of the same products, each one usually has a different variety of specialty products, such as farm tables, platters, glassware, and china. Do your research to make sure you get the items you really want. Simple things can make a huge difference in the aesthetic.

wedding reception menu

-If the caterer is providing an open bar, ask for a list of all the products they will be providing. Ask to taste their house wines and champagne; ask what beer options they have; ask what specific alcohols they provide.

Michael Stuart NY is a member of Blue Label.

Check back soon for part II!

photo credits: Jen Huang Photography and Missy Photography

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Spanish Revival Wedding

Garden Weddings

There’s something about weddings with an exotic flair that makes my heart pitter-patter. This wedding, sent to us by Christa Rose of Floral Designs by Christa Rose is no different: hand-crafted boxes of succulents, bouquets of almost every color in the rainbow, and plentiful details alluding to the couple’s heritage. Plus, that venue? Sign me up for the next plane, please…

spanish revival wedding

From Christa Rose of Floral Designs by Christa Rose:
Their wedding and reception took place at Casa Romantica, a 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival estate overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean in San Clemente, CA. The ceremony was out on the bluff with a long stretch of ocean and sunny skies as a backdrop. They had mariachis to serenade them down the aisle and into the reception – how awesome is that!

spanish revival weddingspanish revival wedding

When Carmen first came to me, she knew her venue but didn’t quite know which direction to go in. As soon as she told me she liked succulents, the ball started rolling. She and her fiancé found unfinished planters boxes from IKEA and stained them a dark wood color to go with the beams and style of the Casa. The boxes were just perfect for succulents! I decided that it was more sustainable to plant the succulents rather than use cut stems for the centerpieces. This way, guests could take home the centerpieces and enjoy their beauty even after the wedding. I hosted a planting party and had a few of Carmen’s friends and family over to help with the centerpieces (wine was involved!). It was so much fun to get everyone involved in a hands-on project and even teach them some new things.

spanish revival wedding

Carmen and I had discussed flowers and decor for the ceremony but decided to leave it as it was since the natural setting was already breathtaking. Carmen had the best attitude and was so easy to work with – she told me a bit of her style and let me run with it. I always get excited when brides let me do this because I can create something that is a little unexpected. I loved the boutonnieres – they were made up of succulents, craspedia (aka billy balls) and a single rose. I wrapped them all with burlap and tied them with raffia. They were the perfect complement to the rest of the wedding flowers.

spanish revival weddingspanish revival wedding

From the bride, Carmen: Most of our inspiration for our wedding day was from Casa Romantica. We knew as soon as we walked in that this was the perfect venue for us! The Spanish feel it had and all the beautiful gardens, but most of all the VIEW… it was amazing. We really wanted to keep it simple with the decor and make it “us”. I knew as soon as I was engaged that I wanted to incorporate succulents as my centerpieces and our first DIY project was to make our centerpieces. We purchased planter wood boxes from IKEA and Elmer stained ALL the boxes. Our floral designer, Christa Rose, really helped put my vision together and did an amazing job with all the arrangements. I was sooo in LOVE with my bouquet. I couldn’t have done most of our DIY projects without our friends and family. My brother is an AMAZING artist and he created our guest sign in tree, for guest to “leaf us a note” when they entered the venue. He made a painting of “Dia de los muertos” for us as a present and we displayed it at our wedding. My sister purchased all the jaritos from Mexico and we used them as favors for guest to take home and had a Day of the Dead groom and bride by our cake. Other DIY projects we did were our escort cards, moss letter initials, table numbers and chalkboard menus.

spanish revival wedding

spanish revival wedding

I fell in love with my bracelet; I had been drooling over it online and finally had the guts to just purchase it from JCrew. I knew I wanted to wear flats, so I went with Steve Madden gold flats. My sister (MOH) gave me the flower that I wore in my hair which was from Mexico! Elmer is a die hard Dodger fan, so i thought he would love it for me to wear a Dodger garter that I purchased from Etsy.

My most memorable moment was our first look. We decided we wanted to see each other before the ceremony. Best decision ever… I was so nervous and as soon as I saw Elmer all my nerves went away. It was intimate and I also never thought that he would get teary eyed.

spanish revival wedding

Advice for brides planning: I think the most important thing is to have fun with the planning process and relax! It doesn’t have to be so stressful. Hire a coordinator! I really think if I didn’t have a coordinator everything wouldn’t have run as smoothly as it did.

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Wedding Vendors (San Clemente, CA):

Venue: Casa Romantica / Floral Designer: Floral Designs by Christa Rose / Wedding planner: In the Now Weddings / Wedding Photographer: Aaron Shintaku / Wedding Dress: Marisol / Wedding Shoes: Steve Madden / Caterer: Iva Lees / Wedding Cake and Cookies: Groom’s Parents / DJ: Elegance Elegancia / Hair and Make-up: Beauty and the Beach / Bridesmaids’ dresses: J. Crew / Bridesmaids’ shoes: Steve Madden / Wedding Invitations and paper goods: Etsy & Paper Source

Floral Designs by Christa Rose is a member of Blue Label.

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