As a Las Vegas Wedding Planner, I have access to some of the most talented chefs and culinary teams in the world - All located in this surprisingly small Valley and centered around Las Vegas Boulevard. And as a self-proclaimed foodie, I have to say that one of my favorite things to do is plan a menu!
The preparing and sharing of food is one of the most intimate experiences we participate in as a culture. Make the most of this opportunity and turn your meal into a memory by incorporating foods that have meaning to the two of you as a couple. Always, always take advantage of the opportunity to do a Chef's Tasting. It is the only way to ensure that you and your guests will be truly delighted with your experience.
Truth be told, most couples leave their reception hungry. They get so wrapped up in the emotions of the day and sharing with their guests, that they forget to eat! Schedule your tasting as one of the last activities you handle in the planning process. Take the opportunity to look back on the journey of your engagement and unwind together before your big day.
Having just had the opportunity to indulge in not one, not two, but THREE incredible tastings in the last month (lucky girl!) I have a few tips to help you through the planning process.
Menu Planning & Tasting Tips
1. Be Inspired - When planning your menu, allow yourself to be inspired by your individual cultures, the restaurant you went to on your first date, the location of your wedding and your honeymoon destination. Think back to your favorite childhood meals, your favorite Friday night take-out options, and your standard go-to dishes that are always served in your house when having friends and family over.
2. Be Clear About What you Want - In all areas of your wedding, the most important piece of advise that I can give you is to be very clear about what you want, and what you don't. You have a voice ~ Use it! If you want one specific cut of meat over another, be sure to let the chef know. And if there are flavors and textures that you do or do not like, be sure to communicate this up front so that you don't waste your time (or the chef's time) in a tasting that is outside of your personal palette.
3. Give the Chef Creative License - The second most important piece of advise I can give you is to trust the experts! The chef, catering manager and culinary team have all risen to their ranks based on years of knowledge, experience and talent. You know your tastes, and your guests tastes. But they know the venue, the seasonality of their product and 101 little things that go into planning and servicing a large group of people at one time. Therefore, if you suggest something that the chef or venue fears may not work from an execution standpoint, give them the freedom to be inspired by your choice and keep an open mind in accepting their ideas. More often than not, these trusted professionals truly do know best!
4. Take Notes - The venue catering manager should provide you with a printed menu outlining all of the items you will have an opportunity to try throughout the tasting. It's easy to get caught up in the "dining" element, but remember that you are here to taste and create. Next to each item be sure to note your first visual impression upon seeing it and the first impression of the bite. If there is something small that you would like to change, ask if the chef can make the adjustment right then and there. If it is perfect as is, be generous with the compliments!
5. Take Pictures - Document everything, and share those photos with the catering manager, chef and your wedding planner. This is especially significant if your tasting takes place somewhat in advance of your actual wedding. Should the team that presented your tasting not be on hand to execute your actual event, it is helpful to have a complete set of descriptions, notations and photos to share to ensure that the meal served is the one you selected!
And while most couples today choose to bring in a couture confection of a cake, I don't believe in ending any meal without something sweet! It finishes the experience perfectly, and can be accomplished with mini cookies, truffles or petit fours.