Get ready for an action-packed culinary adventure. Utah’s top caterers dazzle tastebuds with new ingredients, flavorful combinations and imaginative menus.
Charcuterie & Greens
Charcuterie is not just a fun word to say— this meat-and-cheese combo has evolved from an at-home entertaining staple to a wedding art form. “Charcuterie plates are beautiful and can be arranged in so many different ways to accommodate the needs, tastes and preferences of the client,” The Blended Table’s Emery Lortscher explains. “Plus, they display local products from a variety of places.” Lortscher suggests local cheesemakers like Mesa, Beehive and Shepherd, and local producers including Creminelli and Beltex. “We also make an in-house cured beef that is a divine offering to add into the mix.”
These platters elevate the taste level at any soiree. The team suggests pairing meats and cheeses with locally-made sweets like hand-rolled truffles, artisanal cookies, local chocolates and pastries. Need vegetarian options? No problem. Pickled and fresh veggies, olives and assorted nuts served with savory spreads like hummus and red pepper feta pack huge flavor without the meat. The Blended Table prefers to pair any platter with a micro-green salad and edible flowers drizzled with chamomile honey.
Want to fire up those guests? Present a pizzaiolo (the Neapolitan term for pizza maker) alongside a wood-fired pizza oven and eccola, dinner is served in style. “Wedding couples are more savvy than ever,” says Culinary Crafts founder Mary Crafts-Homer. “They want farm-to-table foods, plus they want everything cooked fresh on-site.” Catering to that request, Crafts and her team recently added a mobile pizza oven to their fleets.
Food trucks are popular for a reason. The mobile pop-ups offer niche food at a reasonable price in a casual venue. “Everyone loves ethnic street food, and brides are no exception,” says Culinary Crafts’ Mary Crafts-Homer whose team serves these zesty bites at wedding tents, barns and ranches throughout Utah. “We’re dishing up tacos with corn fundido, homemade sweet-and-savory pretzel bites, Polish sausages with kraut and mustard, Mexican corn on the cob with all the fixings, churros and dulce de leche and the new hot item, ramen, done every way you can imagine.”
NITRO ICE CREAM
What initially looks like a witch’s potion happens to be the latest food trend to hit our sweet-crazed state. “To add a live, dynamic food and beverage experience to a social hour or reception-style event, try nitrogen ice cream,” says La Caille’s event director Rachael Masten. “Our Executive Chef Billy Sotelo and Banquet Chef Zach Howa created a Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Station, and it’s been a raging success.” The La Caille culinary team starts with a cream base, then blends it with any number of flavors followed by liquid nitrogen, which freezes the mixture into ice cream. “This is a fun, foggy and dramatic presentation which leaves guests talking.”
For decades, flaming Irish coffees have been a popular staple at La Caille. “Guests watch in awe as their drinks are crafted right before them,” says events director Rachael Masten. “Our bartenders start with a large sugar-rimmed glass coated with warm Jameson Irish Whiskey. Once the glass is full and coated, they light it on fire. The sugar crystalizes and, while it burns, we sprinkle cinnamon on top. The toasted cinnamon sparks and crackles.” Lastly, the mixologist adds Kahlua, Millcreek Coffee and Chantilly cream.
EAT THE ART
Spark conversation between guests using interactive appetizer stations like this cuisine canvas by Done To Your Taste. “Our build-your-own caprese is a work of art packed with fresh ingredients arranged in a stunning composition,” says Eileen Dunn. “Guests stop, look, appreciate, and remark.” Ingredients can include fresh pesto, heirloom tomatoes, basil, Utah cherry balsamic glaze, edible flowers, fresh mozzarella, orange sea salt and black crystal salt, tomato tapenade and garlic focaccia croutons.
These days, hosts and their guests know more about food quality, sourcing and nutrition than ever before. And, although trendy, the Whole30, ketogenic, Mediterranean and Paleo diets share one common theme: clean, unprocessed foods. “Utah has access to almost every high-quality ingredient imaginable that strengthens any menu in color, aroma and flavor,” says Kate Jensen of Lux Catering and Events. “Whether it’s ethically-raised beef and pork from Snake River Farms, free-range poultry from Redbird Farms or fresh greens from Park City Strong Vertical Gardens, food is better when it’s fresher.” By serving local ingredients, hosts share cuisine that tastes delicious, strengthens the local economy, and is healthier and more nutritious.
Remember fondue fountains? Caterers retired those years ago, but the kitschy chocolate-or-cheese displays inspired a food-performance revolution. “Action stations are unique and exciting. They involve your guests, and they are incredibly flexible,” says Lux Catering & Event’s Katie Jensen. Small buffet tables placed in various venue locations keep guests circulating—read: no long buffet lines—and offer a variety of food options. “Our favorites serve mainstream food trends like tacos, s’mores, sliders and a caprese carving station. Right now, our personal favorite is pho.” Offer rice noodles, hot broth and your choice of meats, Asian veggies and condiments.
INTERNATIONAL SPICES & SEASONINGS
International cuisine packs big flavor into wedding menus. “These new flavors have been and will continue to be a great way to personalize a wedding menu,” suggests Derek Deitsch of Cuisine Unlimited. “We are starting to see even more international spices—especially from southeast Asia—incorporated into different dishes. Think za’atar, cardamom, kaffir lime leaf, gochujang and ponzu, to name a few.”
Think a classic wedding can’t serve international cuisine? Think again. “African and Mediterranean spices are no longer hidden inside international grocers,” says executive chef Steve Ulibarri. “They’re becoming more common, so you can find them at Whole Foods, Smith’s or WinCo.” Whether served with family-style seating or action-station arrangements, these new international dishes—like Berbere-spiced chicken and Mediterranean beef kebabs, cardamom-scented couscous and za’atar-roasted vegetables—offer tasty dishes without kitschy themes.
These days, alcohol isn’t just reserved for the bar. Wine, beer and spirits instill flavor into dishes like rosé ice cream, whiskey-infused cheese and wine-braised short rib. Spirits can be added to one item—like a bourbon-glazed sous vide pork tenderloin with grilled peaches, rosemary potatoes and baby squash—or to the entire dish—like vanilla cupcakes with red wine buttercream garnished with fresh fruit and a pipette of sangria. Seared salmon with rosé reduction, fresh grape, basil and shallot relish is another unique entree.
“Taking elements from classic cocktails and turning them into a dessert is another fun idea,” says Cuisine Unlimited’s Derek Dietsch. Here, executive chef Steve Ulibarri transforms a Pimm’s cocktail into a liqueur-spiked vanilla cake layered with cucumber, strawberry and mint buttercream, frosted with orange buttercream and garnished with fresh cucumber, strawberry, orange and mint.
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