- Chez Panisse opens (1971)
An Upscale, Award-Winning Farm-to-Table Wedding
Recipe of the day
The JDK Group is used to requests for farm-to-table menus, but something they don’t get that often is a request for a table on a farm. Not just any old table, but one that is decked out in a modern, elegant environment reminiscent of a Kardashian wedding or the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Vegas.
The wedding took place in three separate spaces created in the middle of a 100-acre farm with the nearest city 113 miles away. JDK was in charge of design, floral, logistics; it was essentially the caterer-planner’s version of a farm-to-table, snout-to-tail event.
“In our 25-year history, this was one the largest, most detailed weddings today. It’s safe to say it was a record-breaker in many ways,” says Jen Delaye, president of the Camp Hill, PA-based catering and event design firm.
A Layered Event
It was the intention of JDK’s designer, David Everett, to build anticipation one layer at a time. To begin, guests arrived in a courtyard area amid several tents surrounded by cornfields. To conceal the farm and create an environment unique to the event, Everett added landscape designer to his list of talents, bringing in 12-foot-tall birch trees, mulch and shrubbery.
After a glass of champagne, guests moved into a 100-by-100-foot ceremony tent just off the courtyard. Its simple black-and-white design incorporated a variety of white blooms in black vases and a mixture of black-and-white chairs. The first verse from the bride and groom’s soon-to-be-shared first dance decorated their ceremony landing -- a sneak peek into the event’s next layer.
Following the ceremony, the guests returned the courtyard and were led into the second venue for cocktails. Amid a color palette of silver, gray and white, they enjoyed sushi and mingling.
The JDK team constructed a raw bar from 10 separate ice sculptures and adorned with 26 hanging ice crystals. Passed hors d’oeuvre were presented on decorative high gloss black mirrors and all the while the feeling of anticipation grew. Guests moved toward a wall accented with a hand-built mirror. Here, escort cards were displayed on illuminated shelves in individual crystal card holders. Cards in hand, they awaited as the reception area was revealed.
To enter a space such as this anywhere would be have been mesmerizing, but to do so knowing you are in the middle of a field was simply beyond belief for many of the guests.
The foundation of the dramatic design was a black carpet and white muslin drapes that covered every wall. Lighting was a mix of geometric patterns, streams of color and pin spots on the tables. A mix of white and black crystal chandeliers and 24-foot crystal curtain columns enhanced the lighting design. A white, monogrammed dance floor was set before a stylish stage designed to fit the 15-piece band.
At the tables, urban-chic black candelabras brimmed with white hydrangea and phalaneopsis orchids. Five different sets of geometric black vases with lush white floral graced the remaining seating tables. Every detail, including the menu wrapped in an embossed silver leather band, added to the elaborate elegance of the evening.
And last but not least …the menu!
Only on the job for two months, JDK’s new executive chef Joshua Short was up to the challenge of bringing the sleekness of a New York restaurant to this heartland event. The dual entrée of seared vanilla-scented sea bass and aged prime cut filet was seasoned with truffle sea salt atop a bed of cherry infused jewel couscous, sautéed haricots verts, micro arugula, fried purple and sweet potato straws and finished with a Pinot Noir gastrique.
Serving a gourmet menu for 315 guests in the middle of a farm required Short to create and implement a three-week production schedule for preparation. Thanks to extensive preparation Short and his team of 20+ culinary and waitstaff served the 315 guests in 12 minutes. Every one of them received a hot plate in the 48 degree weather.
After dinner, the evening concluded with butlered snacks that melded molecular gastronomy with Old World American flavor profiles. It was the perfect ending to an event that took guests from rustic to elegant, from icy silvers and blues to hot amber and passionate purple and ultimately – the final challenge – from farm to fete.
This event won the 2013 CATIE Award for Signature Caterer for Best Wedding. For more information on ICA and how to become a member, please go to www.internationalcaterers.org.
—Liese Gardener, Catersource
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