Have you ever wondered what someone who caters for weddings might choose to serve at their own? Jonathan Carter, executive chef at Caviar & Chips, faced just that decision when he proposed to his fiancée last year. Read on to find out what he’s planning for his own (mouthwatering) wedding menu:
It was July last year when, after a delicious lunch at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons and an afternoon of croquet and boules, I finally plucked up the courage to say those four big words: ‘Will you marry me?’ After a teary ‘yes’ and a few minutes to compose ourselves, we popped a bottle of champagne, had an indulgent dinner of caviar, and started thinking about our wedding. By the end of that night, we had already written our guest list and started talking about our wedding breakfast.
Like many couples, we’ve eaten some wonderful meals in some amazing places in our time. Once we had decided on a date and knew the season, it was fun to think back on memorable plates of food we’ve enjoyed and great hospitality we’ve received. We started piecing together the things that were most important to us:
The main course is most appropriately named as it’s the main event, the focus of the meal, so that felt like the best place to start. As ours is a November wedding, we thought about game, beef and other rich treats, and finally settled on venison.
Living in the Midlands and having family in the North-west means that we’ve ‘enjoyed’ many a journey up the M6! One of the best, however, was around this time of the year in 2014. My fiancée fell asleep (as is the norm) thinking we were going to Manchester and woke up, to her surprise, in the Lake District en route to a tiny restaurant called L’Enclume. In what was possibly The Best Meal Ever, there was an amazing venison dish with root vegetables and charcoal oil with a smoky pinot noir wine. We’ve changed up a few things for our meal, but we think vension is just beautiful so it had to stay – thanks for the inspiration, Mr Rogan!
So, we had our first dish – now on to the fish course.
For my fiancée’s birthday in 2016, we took a trip to Cambridge and had dinner at a lovely little restaurant called Midsummer House (you might be forgiven for thinking there’s a theme emerging here!) One of our favourite dishes from that evening was an amazing scallop dish with one of the tastiest, softest, biggest scallops we’ve ever had. We just had to have this as our fish course at our wedding breakfast. And, because you can never have too much of a good thing, we added lobster bisque, sea vegetables and caviar. When we cooked this dish up for our tasting it blew everyone’s socks off. Delicious, light and yet rich and packed with flavours. Exquisite, even if I do say so myself.
On to the starter. We love a terrine – it’s the best way to start any meal – after warm bread and some nice salted butter, that is! Many a dinner at ours has begun with this or something similar – a ham hock terrine with pickled baby vegetables, black pudding bon bons and saffron mustard mayonnaise, for example. The vegetables have changed and the dressing changes every time, but there’s always ham hock, and always mustard. The saffron mustard was a Christmas present from a good friend last year (don’t worry, the first jar got used very quickly, but we’ve always got one now!) and the little crisp black pudding bon bons were my idea. Much to my surprise, my fiancée loved the addition and we had our opening dish.
Before we knew it, we were on to dessert, our final flourish. Although neither of us has a particularly sweet tooth, there were two must-have ingredients in our dessert – chocolate and salted caramel. The weekend we were trying out all our wedding food, my mother had popped along to our local veg shop and picked up a box of delicious cherries. When it came to trying our chocolate and salted caramel delice, because chocolate and cherries are such good bedfellows, it made perfect sense to cook a few cherries and make a little cherry sauce. Et voila – our dessert was chosen.
There have been a few amends and alterations since writing our first ideas down – we’ve added a gin and tonic granita as a little palate cleanser after the main course and we’ve chosen some of our favourite cheeses as well, but the most important thing for us was creating a personal menu that represented us, and was a genuine treat for all our guests. We think we’ve done that, and have loved every step of the process along the way. The icing on the proverbial cake is that in my ‘day job’ as executive chef at Caviar & Chips, it’s my aim to do the same for every bride and groom with whom we have the pleasure of working!
Jonathan Carter, Executive Chef and Co-founder, Caviar & Chips