Press Clips - Rachel De Marte

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Press Clips - Rachel De Marte
Feed the
Senses
Chicago’s chicest caterers talk trends for the spring/summer
2013 wedding season. Prepare to salivate.
| By Rachel De Marte and Elise Hofer | Photography by Neil Burger |
In this industry, we’re always thinking about six months out.
So despite the current chilly temps, we cornered 10 of the
city’s top caterers to get the dish on trends coming down
the pike for spring/summer receptions. Then we enlisted
party planner, food stylist and writer Rachel De Marte
(racheldemarte.com) to edit the sweet and savory
offerings down to the best of the best. After all, who better
to talk food trends than a hospitality vet with more than 10
years in the biz (including five years at Entertaining
Company and a stint with A Perfect Event). Recently
branching out on her own with her eponymous new event
planning and styling company (with an emphasis on all
things food and beverage, natch), De Marte shares her
favorites, from plates and passables to sips and nibbles.
Retro Return
Chef and owner Elaina Vazquez at
Boutique Bites (boutiquebites.com)
realizes that vintage fashion is hot right
now, and is translating the trend to
food. From gourmet “TV dinners” and
Champagne and caviar pairings to Jell-O
salad (aka gelée) single servings topped
with king crab and mache lettuce, she
likes to see a reception where bites are
butlered around nonstop all night. “Retro
bites are a perfect way to showcase
upscale versions of couples’ favorites
from childhood,” says Vazquez. “It’s
nostalgic, but we make it contemporary.”
Edible Elegance
As you read on, you’ll find that there are nonstop requests for menus
boasting small bites, mini food, beverage pairings, comfort cuisine and
global feasts. That’s all well and good, and on trend, but sometimes a
classic, properly plated dinner service may be the best bet. So whether
you’re a foodie willing to relinquish the reins and try anything or, say,
a hard-core vegan, when it comes to the great plate up, caterers such as
Blue Plate (blueplatechicago.com) can walk you through what works
best for your reception fête. For spring, Blue Plate Executive Chef Paul
Larsen is loving lamb. “Lamb can provide the guest with a contemporary
presentation, but still uses some very classic cooking methods and flavor
profiles.” Simple and clean flavors as well as a beautiful presentation?
That’s the definition of an elevated dining experience—and something
bound to tantalize your most finicky of guests. But don’t count Blue Plate
out when it comes to taking trends and making them, er, less trendy.
Take, for example, their savory doughnut holes: foie gras-filled with a
mandarin glaze or a curried cauliflower mousse-filled version drizzled
with white chocolate. A caterer with a respect for letting foods’ natural
flavors shine and a knack for unexpected flavor combinations? Très chic.
CLASSIC COOL Blue Plate’s thymeroasted rack of lamb with wild
mushroom and brioche bread pudding,
carrot purée, Brussels sprout leaves,
Thumbelina carrots and thyme jus
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TONY TASTINGS From top: Mini Jell-O salad of apple gelée,
mache lettuce, king crab and lemon-thyme vinaigrette served
on a spoon; and black caviar cones paired with Champagne
with floating strawberry pearls, both by Boutique Bites
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FOOD
Waste Not, Want Not
Copper River salmon... It’s healthy
and fresh, not to mention a great
sustainable seafood entrée
option that Food For Thought
(foodforthought-chicago.com) sees
trending for 2013 affairs. And when
it comes to cooking methods, Vice
President of Catering John Rudy
and his team take a “whole hog”
(or, in this case, “whole fish”)
approach. “We have two methods
of a simple grilled filet served with
a stew of early fingerling potatoes
and cured smoked belly of the
salmon,” says Rudy. “And the
bones of the fish are used to make
a traditional matelote [red wine
sauce] that’s then used to make
a red wine butter to top the fish.”
Rudy, like many, sees Chicago at
the culinary forefront restaurantwise, and aims to elevate catering
above a meat-and-potatoes comfort
zone. “Adventurous yet accessible
fare,” adds Rudy. “That’s Food For
Thought’s modus operandi.”
Shining Star
WHAT A DISH! Grilled Copper
River salmon with early English
pea purée, braised peas, shaved
baby fennel, fi ngerling potatoes
and mint salad
IN THE RAW
Harry Caray’s
Catering & Event’s
scallop crudo with
blood orange coulis
and basil granita
A WORLD APART Cork complements this
swordfish dish with a salad of preserved
Meyer lemons, rosewood-smoked chickpeas
and dry cured olives on a bed of arugula.
Fresh Start
Known for the steakhouse style of Harry Caray’s restaurants,
Harry Caray’s Catering & Events (harrycarayscatering.com)
knows how to cook a steak to perfection. So what does one
serve to satisfy before a great piece of meat? A crudo, of course.
HC’s crudo of the moment is a mix of day boat scallops, blood
orange coulis and basil granita (think sashimi with Italianstyle flair). Now that’s what we call a light and flavorful hors
d’oeuvre or first course option. In a word, crudo-licious.
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GIUSEPPE TENTORI PORTRAIT BY NEIL BURGER
While farm-to-table still trends hot, so does global inspiration from
faraway places like North Africa. Grains of paradise, sumac, cinnamon,
peppercorns and cardamom take guests on a culinary journey when
flavoring meats, seafoods and vegetables alike. Smartly seasoned entrées,
such as Cork Catering & Special Events’ (corkcatering.com) tagine
roasted swordfish marinated in coconut milk and cumin, lend themselves
to even the most subtle of palates.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT PHOTO BY NEIL BURGER; HARRY CARAY’S CATERING & EVENTS PHOTO BY JOE
Nice Spice
MAN ON TOP Boka Catering
Group Executive Chef Giuseppe
Tentori in his River North
restaurant, GT Fish & Oyster
At 19 years old, promising chef
Giuseppe Tentori left Milan for
Highwood, accepting a job under
Gabriel Viti at Gabriel’s. After a
sous chef stint in Salt Lake City,
he returned to Illinois, downtown
Chicago this time, and spent the
next nine years honing his skills
at Charlie Trotter’s. In 2007,
Tentori was tapped by the Boka
Group to be executive chef at
Boka Restaurant. Last year, he
opened yet another resto with the
Boka boys, GT Fish & Oyster in
River North. So why the resume
recap? It’s rare, in fact pretty
much unheard of, that brides and
grooms have access to a Michelinstar chef willing to put his stamp
on a reception menu. But that’s
exactly what couples get when
they work with Boka Catering
Group (bokacatering.com). “If
an emphasis on local farmers,
seasonal ingredients and
exceptional service is important
to you on your big day, we
provide an award-winning
restaurant experience at your
wedding,” says Tentori. “We aim
to help people move away from
the standard, tired wedding fare
by designing custom menus that
celebrate them as a couple.”
FOOD
A Moveable Feast
Local Option
When it comes to outside-the-box ideas, Entertaining Company
(entertainingcompany.com) gets an A+. Fifties-themed food stations?
Check. Global cuisine channeling India, Africa and Southern Asia? Check.
Beverages served out of proton packs à la Ghostbusters? Yes, they’ve done
that, too. Owner Wendy Pashman lives for executing edible concepts that
most wouldn’t dream of, and unique service is always part of the package.
Cue the company’s new small plates service, where guests get to sample
multiple entrées from a highly styled cart that rolls from table to table. “We
love to frame our beautiful food with curated place settings and unique
serving systems,” says Pashman. “Elegant mobile carts ferrying small plates
to seated guests is a way to combine the luxury of plated service with the
ability to choose.” After all, who doesn’t like options? Especially ones as tasty
as stuffed lamb loin and shrimp and grits. Pair your plates with seasonal
cocktails from EC’s in-house mixologist and let the party really begin.
Known for offering hyper-local
menus that utilize produce
grown from their urban gardens,
Jewell Events Catering
(georgejewell.com) gears up for
the spring 2013 wedding season
with not one, but two new gardens.
Courses highlight the beautiful
colors of the bounty: patty pan
squash, beets, arugula, leeks and
more. “Fresh, local ingredients
will never be a fad,” says Dana
Konya, Jewell’s senior wedding
consultant. But if you like trends,
Konya predicts that roaming
stations—food moving toward us?
Yes, please!—and cake pops will
continue to be hot-ticket items.
FRESH AND FRUITY Mache lettuce salad of grilled pineapple,
pancetta, compressed strawberries, candied pecans and goat cheese
Take Two
BUNDLE UP!
Jewell Events Catering’s
beet, arugula and goat cheese
bundles tied with leeks and
served on bent forks
According to Kenmare Catering & Events
(kenmarecatering.com), there are two key
“ingredients” for executing fine reception fare
this spring. First, table starters, a modestly
portioned on-trend nosh offered to guests
when they’re first seated. “Something tasty,
like a seasonal crudo, to tide everyone
over through the speeches,” says Kenmare
President Reid Tillinghast. Second, creative
and modern techniques executed throughout
the dinner service for pops of color and big
flavor wows. Examples, you ask? Olive oil
powder sprinkled over a salad, hollandaise
gel on poached asparagus, Anti-Griddle
pops (think frozen paté or custard served on
sticks) passed about and compressed fruits
strategically placed on all courses. “The food
is still recognizable, but we’re adding cuttingedge twists that will turn palates on end.”
“We love to frame our
beautiful food with curated
place settings and unique
serving systems,” says
Entertaining Company’s
Wendy Pashman.
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Hydration Sensation
THE MORE THE MERRIER Above:
Entertaining Company’s small plates of
stuffed lamb loin and shrimp and grits.
Left: EC’s Le Green cocktail made with
Grey Goose vodka, housemade cucumber
water, Cointreau and lime; garnished
with a cucumber banner. Service cart,
China and owl cocktail set courtesy of
The Festive Frog (thefestivefrog.com).
HIT REFRESH
Limelight ups the ante
on plain old pitchers of
water with berries and
flavored syrups.
With so much focus on food
and alcoholic beverages, we
can’t forget to consume what
makes us tick: H2O. Limelight
(limelightcatering.com) has taken
the staple and given it an eventworthy revamp in the form of a
water bar. Citrus, berries, fresh
herbs, grapes and cucumber all lend
themselves to great spring/ summer
flavor combos while adding just the
right splash of color. Offer up tiny
pitchers of rhubarb, lemongrass or
strawberry syrups for guests who
enjoy a sweeter kick. “A water bar
is a welcome substitute for the
designated driver, and a wonderful
reminder to hydrate if you are
drinking,” says Limelight Principal
Rita Gutekanst. “It’s attractive,
healthy and thoughtful.” Serve in
glassware befi tting the look of your
party and consider accenting with
colorful straws and fresh-cut fl orals.
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