A guide to style your menu!
We focus on the trend of food styling and plating at wedding buffets
While props and decorative counters to make wedding buffets more attractive is a lawfully followed practice, the focus has now shifted to the styling and presentation of food instead. Individual plates, bite-sized cuisines and interactive food stations are ways in which chefs, caterers and planners are experimenting with and guests are appreciating at wedding buffets.
As opposed to the erstwhile trend of keeping larger-than-life utensils and inedible props for decoration, caterers have made food a guest-friendly commodity, believes Chef Mandar Madav. He adds, “Everyone now likes individually garnished dishes and desserts. These small, bite-sized, individually plated dishes have become common as weddings are events where everyone wants to socialise and cleaner and less messy food is more appreciated. The focus is on less clutter and more elegant items as opposed to piling dishes on their plates.” Chef Surjan Singh Jolly echoes the thought: “Indian weddings are witnessing a remarkable shift from traditional catering. People are now moving towards a more sophisticated, professional and stylish food setup. It now includes a wider range of food-related props like the mortar and pestle and is aimed at presenting to the onlooker a holistic picture of the variety and diversity of food. The varying tastes and preferences of people is an important factor for food arrangement at any wedding. While some would like to opt for a traditional set-up like a buffet, others want to explore newer trends like live counters.”
Props for presentation
Sandeep Arora, general manager at a heritage hotel, opines, “Techniques like lighting, frilling and displaying the food in innovative platters and small pre-portioned bowls with beautiful cutlery also lend an eclectic appeal.” Now the concept is more of eat what is laid on the food spread, so non-edible elements are passé. Chef Mihir Kane says, “The focus is on the minimalist aspect. No longer are there chafing dishes stuffed with food. And with everyone becoming conscious of wastage, nobody likes to have left over food in their own plates.” Props and floral decorations have given way to ingredient display. Chef Girish Kumar says, “Since 60 per cent of the food at weddings is prepared live and fresh, along with colourful exotic vegetables, meat and herbs on display, a chef’s cooking skills are also a major part of food theatrics. There is a heavy shift towards live cooking and individual plating. The menus for weddings are usually multi-cuisine and there is a need for displaying each cuisine extensively and separated from the rest. Salads and desserts are no more served in bulk, but are served individually in bite-sized portions so that the presentation of each preparation can be maintained.”
Tapping the shift
With the awareness about tapas, sushi and other bite-sized delights, people want more variety at wedding spreads. Chef Gaurav Chakraborty further adds that with people frequently eating out, they see what is being served at restaurants and expect the same at a wedding buffet. Chef Jolly adds, “Today, the focus in wedding food is on ‘honest cuisine’. By this, I mean that the food is designed to be extremely appealing in its natural form without any exterior gimmicks. Also, I personally feel that this concept is more economically viable vis-à-vis the extensive traditional spreads and this could be an additional factor leading to this shift.”
It’s the era of convenience foods, which has given way to individual and pre-portioned food on the buffet. Ananth Vaidyanathan, chief executive officer of a wedding planning company says, “Bite-sizing plays a major role at any party or wedding. Dishes like fish fingers, nachos, tacos, coin pizzas and chicken lollipops are easy to pass around and prove to be beautifully presented, hassle-free eating options. Even from a functional perspective, arranging such a setup and serving food is less messy as well.”
✔ For a chef to arrive at what food plating/styling he would like to have at a wedding, it is important to first interact with the couple and their families to understand the specific preferences they have.
✔ Costs are reduced as there is less wastage of food, but individually plating each dish is time-consuming.
✔ Another crucial factor would be the wedding layout. The wedding could be an outdoor or an indoor affair and hence, the food presentation has to be altered as per the venue.
Lead Photo: Alila Diwa Goa