It’s not only the bona fide foodie couple who wants to serve something more imaginative than Chateaubriand and salmon at their wedding. It’s also the average New Yorker whose palate has been pampered by eating in this town (and whose friends—and future wedding guests—are becoming similarly hard to impress). Here, we asked four New York City chefs to design fabulous seasonal wedding menus (and share their insider-cooking tips, including where to source the most delicious ingredients, and how to make each menu more or less extravagant). How do they suggest you rescue your wedding food from catered blahness? Easy: Focus on what’s local and fresh at the time of the wedding (you can get quince only for four weeks in the fall!), choose flavors that befit the season (game and foie gras in winter; lobster in summer), and use the highest-quality ingredients possible. Bon appétit!
WINTERby Zak Pelaccio of Fatty Crab
Oysters with Volpaia vinegar mignonnette, bluefin toro with marinated chives, foie gras terrine with spicy candied cashews, slow-poached quail eggs with Osetra caviar, braised bacon with celeriac.
“Bluefin only comes in summer and fall, but toro can hold—it’s nice for when it’s cold out. Foie gras makes perfect sense in the winter, and spiced nuts remind me of Christmas time.”
Wood-roasted porcini salad, Honey Locust Farm’s sylvetta, sea-urchin dressing.
“The porcini is a wonderful cold-weather mushroom. It’s full-flavored with Maine sea urchin and some chile for heat. Diced apple and pear—those are the fruits that cellar well through the winter.”
Linguine with Taylor Bay scallops, bottarga di muggine.
Mesquite-grilled squab with foie gras, Love Apple Farm pears, Columbia County honey.
“If this were a four-course meal, the dish before this would be butter-poached hamachi with young ginger and pickled radish—the ginger would be preserved from earlier in the year but held (similar to how the Japanese pickle it for sushi). And the squab: What could be a better choice for winter than game? The foie gras gives it some nice fattiness.”
Tiny chocolate and carrot cakes.
Cost of food: $275 per person
Save: Replace toro with bigeye tuna loin.
Splurge: Serve a 200-pound Tamworth pig at the after-party. Smoke it with oak wood; serve it with local treviso and radicchio, Volpaia vinegar, and chile.
SPRINGby Bill Telepan of Telepan
A buffet of oysters, foie gras terrine with vidalia-onion marmalade, fried squash blossoms, zucchini and green tomatoes with basil aïoli, shrimp with green chile oil and scallions, asparagus with pistachios and egg, stir-fried gold rice with peas and pea shoots.
“Also serve a cucumber-dill martini and the Telepan 69: A French 75 with seasonal strawberries, muddled with sugar and bitters, gin and ice, shaken and poured into a flute and topped off with Champagne.”
Smoked trout with sweet-onion sour cream, potato-chive blini, and farm-raised Osetra caviar.
“Hot-smoke the trout to rare, so it’s not so overwhelmingly smoky that it kills the palate and so it still has a sashimi texture. Get it from Eden Brook Trout Farm.”
Lobster poached in butter with peas and handmade farfalle.
“Even though it’s poached in butter, it’s not heavy, and the pasta gives it a comfort-food feel.”
Roasted prime rib of beef with ramps, fiddleheads, nettles, dandelion, lamb’s quarter, wild garlic—sautéed with brown-butter new red potatoes.
“The prime rib is my favorite part of the cow. Each of these vegetables has a certain bitterness, which goes great with beef.”
Individual strawberry and rhubarb crostata with lemon-verbena ice cream.
Cost of food: $175 per person
Save: Use different cuts of meat—skirt steak or brisket. Replace the lobster with striped bass. Take away the caviar, the foie gras terrine, the oysters—do chicken-liver crostini instead and king crab.
Splurge: Serve specialty drinks.
SUMMERby Mike Anthony of Gramercy Tavern
Lobster rolls, grilled potato bread and ginger-pickled ramps, skewers of beets, radish and cherries, and cucumber citrus-cured char “martini.”
“Serving lobster rolls is a good way to casually present a luxury ingredient. Shave the radish and beets into thin ribbons. The cucumbers from Nevia No at Yuno Farm at the Union Square market are the best. Get the Japanese variety called kuri. Serve the char in a martini glass.”
“Great white” tomato salad, pickled watermelon, and white balsamic vinegar.
Bluefin tuna toro, avocado squash, and zucchini purée.
“Only get the really dense, fatty pieces of bluefin tuna. When the water temperature rises to 59 degrees, the fish swim closer to the East Coast and we see them on the market.”
Lacquered duck breast, caramelized corn, and roasted eggplant.
“Roast the breasts on the bone and glaze them with a Hamptons wildflower honey and crushed, toasted fennel seed.”
“La Peche Au Vin”—white peach in a glass of burgundy with sugar, almond oil, and peach sorbet.
“This dessert is inspired by my friend’s grandfather who has a house in Lyon.”
Cost of food: $100 per person
Save:Do mussels instead of lobster. Replace the foie gras with grilled apricots wrapped with prosciutto. In lieu of the tuna, do a lightly salted codfish.
Splurge: Iberian Spanish ham is irresistible. At cocktail hour, do blinis with caviar and crème fraîche from Ronnybrook Farm.
FALLby Marco Canora of Hearth
Candied foie gras torchon on spiced walnut bread, beef and beet tartar with endive, roasted honeycrisp apple with Gorgonzola dolce brûlée, and Barron Point oyster with black pepper and pomelo mignonnette.
Grilled Spanish mackerel with pear vinegar, smoked pear purée, and hen-of-the-woods mushrooms.
“Spanish mackerel is local off the coast of Jersey, super-fresh. And the pear’s a no brainer—they’re all over the greenmarket. The mushrooms add that earthy note that’s reminiscent of autumn.”
Pumpkin tortelli with chestnuts, sage, amaretti, and mostarda di Cremona.
“Paffenroth Farms does these European-style cheese pumpkins that I love.”
Stone Church Farm Duclair duck: spiced breast, confit leg, Tokyo turnips, anise honey, and rapini.
“Stone Church Farm is a tiny farm upstate that has off-the-charts delicious heirloom duck. A lot of the Long Island duck breast lacks this flavor. Tokyo turnips aren’t as intense as the American variety.”
Quince tart tatin with crème fraîche and thyme ice cream.
“Quince is the perfect fruit for fall—so aromatic and their season is so short you can only get local quince for four weeks out of the year.”
Cost of food: $120 per person
Save: Do Muscovy ducks out of California instead and eliminate the foie gras.
Splurge: Introduce caviar, truffles, high-end passed hors d’oeuvre like langoustines.