Ask The Experts… Kalm Kitchen.

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Quick Question… Who’s having food at their wedding?

Everyone..? Well, in that case this is a VIP (very important post). Today we have managed to persuade Love Lust List members Kalm Kitchen to put aside their pots and pans for a few hours and instead the lovely duo are poised in front of their computer, ready to answer all of your culinary conundrums.

As a quick aside, my Kitchen is anything but calm… I start off with good intentions, meticulously chopping and prepping all my ingredients, giving them all their own little bowls to sit it just like on the telly. Then… carnage. I am actually quite a good chef but I am MESSY. I spill everything and I have a habit of using every single item in the kitchen no matter what I happen to be making. Bad chef.

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So what have we learnt so far? Don’t hire me to manage your wedding food requirements… But who should you hire then? When should you book? How do you go about choosing your menu? Can you try before you buy? Is it ok to serve fish when you know for a fact that Aunty Maggie bloody hates fish. How much should you spend on food? Should you definitely have a sit down meal? What about a buffet? Can you get away with serving everyone fish and palming Aunty Maggie off with a cheese sandwich? Do you have to feed your evening guests too? Should I have a cake? Should I have cheese? What about a cheesecake? What about a cake of cheese? Does Aunty Maggie like cheese? What time should we eat? What’s Parfait?

The list goes on… I am sure that if you are currently planning your wedding you will have pondered at least a few of these questions. Today you shall have your answers! Kalm Kitchen are here right now ready to respond to your food based queries… so please ask away in the comments box below, but first here are a few words from James and Jen Middlehurst from Kalm Kitchen. Have a read because your question might get answered before you’ve even had a chance to ask…

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James and Jen: At Kalm Kitchen we are finding that more and more of our couples are choosing not to have a traditional three course wedding breakfast, and instead are opting for fun and informal menu options that truly reflect their personality as a couple. This year buffets, BBQ’s and street food stations are proving more popular than ever before. If you are keen to offer something a little bit different from traditional chicken and salmon options, and are looking to wow your guests, here are our current most popular suggestions.

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CANAPES

Canapes are a great opportunity to get creative and really tie in the theme of your wedding in with your food. From mini slider burgers to tiger prawns on skewers the way in which you present your canapes can really set the tone of the day and create a talking point amongst your guests. We are seeing many couples opting for unusual methods of displaying their food, anything from a beautiful old book to a moss garden with old apothecary bottles used to hold skewers. We recently served canapes from old birdcages and suitcases – perfect for a vintage style wedding. If you are looking to create a luxurious theme without stretching your budget get your florist to provide some stray stems of flowers, your caterer can then lay these on perspex canape trays
creating an elegant whimsical look.

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MEZZE BOARDS

We are seeing a trend towards fun and informal starters which encourage guests to interact with one another – such as beautiful abundant olive wood boards filled with the finest anti pasti or mezze style eats, these work wonderfully as an ice breaker getting your guests who may not know one another to interact.

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AT TABLE CARVING

A popular choice amongst couples is the option to carve at the table. This creates a relaxed, fun and informal feel to the day and ultimately gives guests more control over what they are eating. One guest is nominated as the “carver” and comes to the kitchen to collect their beautiful joint of meat. The waiting staff then follows the guest back from the table and provides all

the accompaniments in lovely big porcelain bowls. The carver can even be given an apron and chef hat for an extra personal touch.

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FAMILY SERVICE

A new emerging trend, and a quirky twist on a traditional three-course meal is to introduce an element of family service. Examples of this include serving a family sized pie for each table accompanied by a selection of steaming bowls of fresh vegetables – all members of the wedding party can get involved passing plates around and serving their portions as they see fit.

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TABLE PICNICS

A new twist on afternoon tea, table picnics are set to be extremely popular this summer. Ideal if you are holding a laid-back country garden wedding, think long tables with hay bales for seats. Each table is given a picnic hamper filled with deli style eats, fresh bread, cold meats, cheeses and sweet treats – the hampers can be personalised for each table ensuring guests with dietary requirements can be catered for. We love this fun and informal option – a quirky take on a Great British tradition!

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DESSERT

One of our current most popular dessert requests is our DIY Dessert. The puddings are based around old school classics like Eton Mess, Summer Trifle and Knickerbocker Glories. Each table is presented with beautiful cut glass cake stands, bowls and glasses, guests are then encouraged to fill their vintage tea cup with jellies, berries, creams and coulis. The elegance of the glass combined with the scrumptious rich food allows guests to be as creative or restrained as they like. Again it’s a great fun way of getting your guests to interact – the messier the better!

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CHEESE CAKES

Cheese cakes are extremely popular with couples opting for cheese towers as an alternative to a traditional wedding cake. The cheese can then be broken down and served with pate, crackers and a selection of chutneys to your evening guests instead of a separate buffet; this can also be a great way of stretching your food budget.

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Photography by: Anneli Marinovich | Sarah Legge | Zoe Collyer | Captureit | Kalm Kitchen

So Folks, have you got any questions for James and Jen from Kalm Kitchen… They can be menu based questions or absolutely anything you can think of regarding catering or food at your wedding.

Please use the comments box below to ask your questions and James and Jen will be around all morning to provide answers.

Author: Adam Crohill
Adam likes Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain.

43 thoughts on “Ask The Experts… Kalm Kitchen.

  1. Hi James and Jen!
    Such an interesting post, I have got so many ideas from it. I have booked a venue where they basically said food wise “we will do anything” – and now I’m terrified I won’t pick something inventive / imaginative! When I got given all the choice in the world- I suddenly couldn’t think of a single thing I liked to eat! I’m mainly worrying about the dessert – what would you say is a real ‘wow’ dessert in presentation and a bit different? Same question for canapés I guess! In terms of evening food- what kinds of things have you done recently that have been a bit different and have gone down well? I really don’t want to go down the route of – as you say – meat and veg!

    Sorry for monopolising; that’s more like 3 questions!

    Thanks!

  2. Good Morning James and Jen!

    Greg (Husband to be) and I have been finding it very difficult to decide on food options for our wedding – we’re having a marquee in a friend’s garden and having about 200 guests for the whole day so alot of mouths to feed and add into the equation that i’m a coeliac and am very wary of being ‘glutened’ on my wedding day – we’re just stuck!!
    We definitely want a sit down meal as we are having street food in the evening.
    We have been thinking about antipasti/mezza boards for starters so great to hear that is something that is do-able!
    We’re not keen to go down the ‘roast dinner’ route for the mains but really feel a bit clueless on this option…..

    Do you have any suggestions of menus that could work for large numbers (bearing in mind it will be a temp kitchen set up in a field?!)
    For our numbers do you think offering a choice menu will cause choas?
    How would you suggest I can go about putting my mind at ease about ensuring everything I eat on the day is 100% gluten free?

    Thanks!!

    Jess

  3. Hi Josie!
    The most important thing is to choose a menu which reflects you both as a couple and your both love! Don’t get lulled into selecting things you think everyone else will enjoy and end up compromising your own favourites!

    Lets start with canapes: It is not so much the canapes themselves which need to be different, it is more the styling! You can create the most beautiful trays which hugely impact the feel for the day. If you are having a summer country style wedding, you may have boards filled with fresh moss and summery flowers or you could use small glass atriums filled with blooms which guests delve into. The service style will be a real talking point for guests!

    For dessert you could perhaps go for a DIY dessert. This is where the elements are served separately in glass bowls, stands and bottles and guests can build their own. It works wonderfully for things like Eton Mess or Summer Trifle. Beautiful vintage tea cups could be served to each guest for them to fill with the likes of miniature berry jelly cubes, summer berries, coulis, meringues and vanilla whipped cream….scrummy!!

    For the evening we find Late Night Munchies are a huge hit. Late at night when everyone should be on the dance floor there is nothing better than a beautiful waitress arriving with hot, carb heavy savoury snacks. The style in which they are served is again key and we use Old School usherette trays. It is a fun and theatrical way to present your guests with just what they need to soak up a bit of booze! Cones of fish and chips, bacon butties, cheese on toast….simple, nostalgic and comforting!

    I hope this is helpful Josie and wish you the most wonderful day!
    Jen x

  4. Oh this is good. Firstly, I want beef on a stick. NOW.

    I would also love to ask your advice James and Jen. Our venue go with the whole standard set menu thing – that’s fine, they have a great reputation for great food. My problem is that it’s never going to set the world on fire, and I want to make a few suggestions to glam up the main course a little bit without upping the cost.

    Putting you on the spot a bit here, but this is what we have to work with for our main course… any suggestions on changes I could suggest / request? I’m not great and knowing what goes with what or designing menus so i’m at a bit of a loss. It’s standard and boring and typical ‘banquet menu’. waaaaaaaah!!!!!

    Roast breast of corn fed chicken with garden herbs, smoked bacon and leek cream sauce

    with either:
    Roast chateaux potatoes
    Roasted new potatoes with thyme and garlic
    Boiled new potatoes
    Dauphinoise or Lyonnaise

    and:
    Panache of vegetables
    Broccoli and Cauliflower
    Roasted root vegetables
    Ratatouille
    Roasted Med Vegetables

    My other half is just wants to pile the plates with roast vegetables…. bit heavy! and what the hell is a panache???

  5. Hi Jess

    It is becoming increasingly common that we provide 100% gluten free menus. I would suggest that you talk closely with your caterer and they fully understand the condition you have and look at ways to adapt the menus they have. Anti pasti is an excellent way to start your meal and offers an informal and relaxed start to the meal. It will give guests the opportunity to interact and get to know one another too!

    Depending on the overall feel for the day, you could opt for a main course where your guests participate in the service. This works wonderfully for pies or joints of meat which are carved at the table by a nominated guest and all the accompaniments are then past around. The accompaniments could be opulent salads and condiments and don’t have to follow the generic roast style route!
    I know how much I enjoy choice at a wedding but the reality is it makes service much more challenging and also comes with a heavy price! By having a main where people can have as little or as much as they like, you are offering them some control and also making for a less stuffy feel to the meal.

    Jen xx

  6. Like Karen I am quite fancying beef on a stick right now. It is never too early for beef on a stick.

    I am going to just throw this out there and say I am yet to care about food. I have 11 months to go and I have had others things to worry about so early. We are getting in our own caterer who will do anything for us (except reply to my darn emails) but I am yet to really care or think about food. Your post has inspired me though and makes my think that I should maybe, possibly, put masses of thought into it as clearly you can! Loving the idea of a build your own dessert!!!

    My main concern when thinking about the food though is money. The cheaper we can make it the more people we can invite…right?! Our caterer hasnt been so forthcoming with this idea, unsurprisingly. Do you have any tips on how the choices you can make that can help with the cost? Or should I just man up and hand over my money?

  7. ooo exciting Karen! Really soon!

    I would strongly suggest having the sauce lightened and avoiding a cream based option. It would be lovely to celebrate seasonal baby spring/ summer vegetables so perhaps asking if they can make a crushed new potato and pea cake with soft herbs and accompany with a medley of peas, pearl onions, and braised baby gem….
    If you are not able to make such drastic changes, avoid the cream sauce and opt for the most seasonal options…Lyonnais potaoes and panache of vegetables.

    PS: Panache is a variety!

  8. Morning Stef

    Firstly i would say that it is completely unacceptable for one of your main suppliers to not reply promptly to your e mails.
    They are fundamental to the success of your wedding and will be supplying the main linking elements…service, drinks service, food and scheduling.
    I believe you get what you pay for. however there are certainly ways to reign in your costs and I have a couple of suggestions for you:
    Have an abundance of canapes to replace your starter. This way you can be really creative with presentation and your guests first impression will be one of detail, abundance and style!

    Secondly you could create the most beautiful dessert tower which could affectively be your wedding cake and dessert. I am not that keen on serving a piece of sponge cake for pudding but there are a million desserts which you can incorporate into a tower and can then be broken down and garnished to make a truly stylish and SCRUMMY pud! The cost is no more to do this and you get rid of the hefty cake bill!

    Thirdly you can opt for a menu which is based around a cheaper protein such as chicken or pork. Chicken gets such a bad wrap for being generic/ boring/ dry etc etc but is doesn’t have to be! It can often be more of a surprise when you are served a beautiful chicken breast perfectly cooked than having a piece of fillet as people just aren’t expecting it to be so delicious!

    The relationship with your caterer is probably the most important one you will have in the whole process. It will no doubt be the biggest expense and I suggest they should be quick to respond and come up with some inspiring menu options which fit within your realistic budget.

    Jen xx

  9. Good morning

    Your food looks lovely. Making me very hungry!
    Could you help me with a couple of questions, they’re dessert based. ?

    Is pavalova a bad idea in this weather? We’re getting married 10 may (eek) and the forecast is humid with thunderstorms but then it could be sunny and hot! I love a pav but I’m not sure it’s a wide idea.

    Second is alternative solutions to pizza for a coeliac. We’ve been told quite late that one of our guests is a coeliac (after we ordered and paid for the pizza) so we’ll likely have to make it ourselves.. neither of us are great cooks but I don’t want to leave him with just fruit salad and it needs to absorb alcohol 🙂

    Thank you
    Michelle

  10. Hi Jen and James.

    What a great blog post – I have a couple of more broad questions, but hopefully you can help- How much direction do you think it’s appropriate to give caterers about the presentation of your food? Also, I assume it is our responsibility to source ‘props’ such as moss/edible flowers/ speciality serveware etc – so could your recommend any suppliers?

    Thanks,

    Georgie

  11. @Jen – thanks so much, that sounds lovely! I’ll have a chat and see how far i get. When you say lighten the sauce, how would that go? i’m picturing leek flavoured water! crushed new potato pea cake sounds amazing. ta! x

  12. This post is making me very hungry!

    We are going down the whole route of having more canapes and scraping the starter. We are then having big platters of food brought to the table, along with salads, breads and potatoes so people can help themselves to what they want and are “forced” to talk to the people on their table by having to ask them to pass things around. Hopefully this will get the conversation flowing. For pudding we couldn’t decide what we wanted so we are having a trio of mini puddings for everybody which means there should be something for everyone and if not I’m happy to have more than 3 as I will not be watching what I eat!

    My question is therefore what canapes would you suggest noting that I’m getting married in July and the drinks reception with canapes will, fingers crossed, be outside and served with (weak) Pimms?

  13. Thanks Jen!

    My caterer is lovely and in person I would trust her with my life but our emails do not like getting through to each other. We are also restricted by our venue as for the sake of their reputation they only allow us to chose from a list of four caterers. (*whispers* but they are having an open day/fayre thing next weekend and I noticed they have added a new caterer to their list so I am going to investigate)

    More canapes less starters could be a plan! I am not really a starter fan anyway, its just a delay for the main event!

    One other quick question: Do you think it would go down well at a wedding if we just served our favourite foods if they are chilli shredded beef/chicken from the Chinese and korma and peshwari from the Indian take aways… Not sure it would go down well with the parents. 🙂

  14. Great blog post!! We are getting married on an organic farm in Italy and the restaurant uses all of their own produce from the farm- we have been over to do a tasting and the food was amazing, so I have no worries about the quality or flavour! The whole day will be as much a celebration of the food as it will be of our marriage lol – there is a canape and drinks reception followed by a 5 course italian feast! The only thing I am worried about is that there are quite a few very ‘plain eaters’ coming to the wedding – for eg. my future father in law doesn’t like any pasta or sauces (I know very weird) and I can’t decide what we can replace the pasta courses with for him, have you any suggestions?
    Also when we did the tasting the veal was our favourite but I’m a little worried that people are funny about veal and maybe we should stick to fillet?
    Thanks

  15. Hi Jen and James,

    This is such an inspiring post, and great to see so many alternatives to traditional wedding catering!

    Your suggestion of a ‘dessert tower’ sounds amazing Jen – we were planning to keep costs down by serving our wedding cake as dessert (I was thinking a chocolate cake served with cream and mixed berries) but is that incredibly boring?? Can you suggest what desserts would work well in the dessert tower, or other ways we could make a wedding cake-based dessert more interesting? We are getting married in August 2014 – I know it’s miles away, but I’m all about the planning 🙂

    Thank you,
    Carly x

  16. Hi Stef

    I would suggest keeping all the catering under one roof as it were so perhaps discuss with your chosen supplier how they can adapt your favourites and incorporate these! We often do this type of food for Late Night Munchies!

  17. Morning Sarah G
    Your plans sound great.

    The canapes really do set president for the rest of the day. We recommend anywhere between four and seven per person depending on the length of the reception.
    It is always lovely to have some hot as these seem to be more satisfying and can fill guests up! Vegetarians will need to be considered and by selecting something which appeals to everyone, you aren’t left with the hearty meat eaters feeling short changed. Something like a butternut and walnut risotto cake goes down a storm!
    Other favourites include fillet on skewers with a hollandaise dip, Chicken saltimboka with a soft herb dip, mini peking duck pancake (old school but super popular?)

    xx

  18. Hi Georgie

    I think you can be as vocal as you like about the style and presentation of the food!
    The tasting session you have with you caterer is the perfect opportunity to look at this in more detail and we always make alterations based on our clients feedback at this point.
    We offer all our clients a selection of different service styles and we source all the flowers, boards etc etc…this should be included as part of the catering service. Often your florist will supply additional flowers if you ask too!

    xx

  19. Hi Carly

    I love a wedding cake tower! The most beautiful we have done combined meringues and chocolate brownie with an abundance of summer berries. This works really well when it is served as desert as you can either offer your guests alternate desserts which is fun and encourages them to share/ swap/ fight (!!) or they can have a duo. The brownie would be combined with a luxurious honeycomb ice cream and the meringue would have whipped vanilla cream, berries and coulis added.

    Jen xx

  20. Jen,

    Thanks for the clarification and all your advice on here. I have a feeling I’m going to be logging on all day just to get more foody tips!

    Georgie

  21. Helen

    We got married in Italy and it was truly one of the most incredible days! Plus having Italian food….what more could you want!
    To be perfectly honest, I wonder weather your Father in Law might be more inclined to sample a beautiful pasta course being that it will be completely different to the pasta and sauce we serve in this country!
    As you have an abundance of canapes on offer plus a five course meal, if he chooses not to eat it (although i bet he will) he will not go hungry!
    I also think your Italian chef will think him completely bonkers if you ask for an alternative so best not upset him 😉

    With regards to the veal I also think it is a true Italian staple and as it was YOUR favourite, that is what you should have!

    My advise to all our couples is to choose a menu that is seasonal, reflects you as a couples and that your LOVE!

    xx

  22. Hi Michelle

    Pavlova is a winner and everyone loves it! It is especially good at this time of year as all the summer berries are coming into season. Although it is too early for English fruits, I am sure your caterer will source the best they can!
    The weather does not hugely affect the pavlova so I would say go for it!

    For the coeliac guest you could use the following link:http://www.coeliac.org.uk/gluten-free-diet-lifestyle/cooking-and-recipes/recipes/glutafin-pizza-recipe

    xxx

  23. Thanks Jen – Yea I think we might just serve him double helpings of the meat course and that’ll keep him happy! Plus as you say no better place to try new things than in beautiful Italy!!
    Oh, this has got me all excited now and I’m busy looking at all the different menu options we can pick from on my other screen! I think another tasting trip to Italy may be necessary just to be sure to be sure 😉

  24. Thanks for the great advice Jen, I’ve tracked down an image of the brownie/meringue tower on your blog and it looks incredible! The only problem is, I’m now starving….it’s fine to have lunch at 10:45, right?? 🙂 x

  25. Hi all!

    This is a great post and I wish I had read this a few months ago as we have just picked our wedding menu! We aren’t getting married until September though, and our caterers are brilliant so I am sure we could change a few things…..

    We went for a food tasting and loved everything we tried. As soon as we had the starter of Mediterranean vegetables with goats cheese, we loved it and it was a definite choice. This would have complimented the chicken dish we tried perfectly, but when we started to compare prices, we realised that the chicken dish would be £800 more expensive than the other favourite….bangers and mash! It is the boys favourite meal and we thought it is really easy to make veggie too, and most people love bangers and mash! It is served in a giant bowl with seasonable veg and the sausages are locally sourced in Devon (and sold in Selfridges!) and a nice light gravy. We have decided to go with that as it is the one place we can save money. By no means is this a compromise on quality though. We really didn’t want to change our starter because it was perfect, but now I am concerned the two don’t match, but does that really matter?! Your opinion would be much appreciated! The boy really doesn’t want to change it!

    We are serving our wedding cake for the dessert but we are having A LOT of cake including a cake of cheese. Everyone that knows me knows I love my cakes, so this was always going to be a big feature. We are going to serve the dessert in the Cider Barn with tea and coffee, so a mini tea party! Oh and we are having mini pasties in the evening!

    Thank you!

    Hannah xx

  26. Oh just thought of another one – the venue will also be supplying the wedding cake and apparently all we have to do is send them an image of what we’d like it to look like (sounds simples) but I was just wondering what the centre of an Italian wedding cake is likely to be? What type of weddings cake did you have in Italy?

  27. Hi Hannah!

    Sausage and Mash is such a winner…everyone loves it and it works well in September as the days are getting cooler!
    To be perfectly honest with you i don’t think you need to change the starter. A successful menu is not just about how it works together but about how delicious it is! If you both loved it, I suggest sticking with it!

    I hope you have a wonderful day!

  28. Hi there

    What a great post – some really great ideas!!

    I was just wondering what the general consensus is regarding alcohol – I am having a marquee wedding, for about 100 people, and was hoping to have a free bar but have no idea how much to but in and of what!! I had thought c. 1/2 a bottle of wine per person but thats as far as I can fathom!!

    Many thanks in anticipation!

    Sophie

  29. Hi Sophie

    It is a bit on a minefield isn’t it…here are our recommendations per person:

    3 x alcoholic drinks for the canape reception
    1/2 bottle of wine per person split 60% white 40% red
    2/3 drinks after the meal for day guests and more like 5 drinks for evening guests

    xx

  30. Hi there!

    It’s not officially morning anymore but since I just saw this now I’m gonna slip in my question and hope I might still get advice! =)

    We’ve set our menu already, there will be family style platters for the appetizer and then our guests are choosing one of three dishes (beef, fish, vegetarian). The problem is our one vegan friend. We are having ravioli with thyme butter and parmesan as the vegetarian dish but that isn’t vegan! Does that make me a bad person? I’m basically leaving her stuck to eat a plate of the sides from the other dishes…

    And one more question: What is your experience with people changing their minds? We are asking our guests for their dinner choice as they RSVP three months before the wedding – what if no one remembers what they ordered?

    Thank you!
    Cat

  31. Afternoon Cat!

    Vegan guests really require a completely separate option.
    Your caterer should be prepared to include options for other dietary needs such as vegan, nut allergy, celiac, lactose free etc. These tend to be as closely linked to the main options available but still a considered meal.
    When your guests return their dietary requirements and menu preference, I suggest using a table planner called toptableplanner.com. you can insert the guest information and where they are sitting so that your event planner and floor manager can provide each guests what they need at the correct time.
    If we have an issue with guests changing their mind, we simply show them this document and explain they are unable to change. They are usually fine with this.

    Jen xx

  32. Hi Jen,
    Is it normal for a caterer to refuse a tasting? The venue we’ve booked is great and the food has really good reviews, but they only use one caterer and it’s making me a bit nervous!
    Thankyou!

  33. Thank you.

    I was worried about the cream going funny as we’re doing it all ourselves (double eek) and I’m not sued how long in warm weather it will be okay.

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