Cheese cubes are out! Stylish hors d’oeuvres are in.
Another popular Fusion style is Nuevo Latino, an evocative blend of California Cuisine with South-of-the-Border verve. Tom Senter of Global Gourmet Catering says their Crispy Bean Cakes with spicy red-pepper crème fraiche simply fly off the platters, and are a tasty way to satisfy any vegetarians in the crowd. Signature Catering serves their summery Chilled Gazpacho in elegant martini glasses, and whether they’re shaken or stirred, guests find them delightfully refreshing. Bar-ware also plays a key role in Global Gourmet’s imaginative Jicama Stars with guacamole and lime-cilantro marinated bay shrimp. Folks will perk up when their unusual Star of Jicama arrives atop a curvaceous shot glass, filled with fine tequila or sparkly champagne.
As chic and cosmopolitan as we are, and as stylish and light as we want our hors d’oeuvres to be, caterers have discovered our secret: deep down, we’re craving good old-fashioned American Classics. Perhaps it’s the stress of the modern world that’s thrown us into the figurative arms of “comfort food,” but who wouldn’t want to dig into Susan Foord’s tempting Mashed Potato Martini topped with a cabernet meatball instead of an olive? And on a cool autumn eve, there’s nothing like a spot of Butternut Squash Soup ladled into demitasse cups to make your guests feel warm and fuzzy. CaterMarin even reports requests for mini-Rueben sandwiches, while Signature’s Yankee Pot Roast in polenta cups are a smash hit. For the holidays, Susan Foord harkens back to our Colonial roots when she cooks up “A Dickens of an hors d’oeuvre”—bite-size Yorkshire puddings with slivers of beef sirloin and horseradish. These upscale versions of old favorites may be guilty pleasures, but your guests will instantly relax as they indulge.
Savvy gourmands already know that food should look as good as it tastes. During the cocktail hour, presentation is especially important, from the fresh, uncluttered arrangement of the hors d’oeuvres on the plate, to the plates themselves. Caterers like Terry Eberle of CaterMarin are always in search of interesting serving pieces. She lines teak rectangular platters with leaves, and uses tiny galvanized buckets to hold toothpicks. Odd shapes and rich colors attract the eye, and Eberle likes the way her Portuguese pottery of turquoise, earthy saffron and mint-green highlight her culinary offerings. A snazzy glass square of black-and-white checks displays Taste Catering’s Prosciutto Roulade. Melon’s serves their Asian Fusion dishes inside bamboo baskets or on burnished pewter plates garnished with polished river stones. Susan Foord is known for her elaborate floral accompaniments, like a soaring bird-of-paradise bouquet, while
Dan McCall’s Stephen Dennison prefers more understated garnishes such as a perfect sprig of orchid. Chefs also create architectural elements with the food itself, as seen in Melon’s gorgeous timbale of tangy gorgonzola and spiced poached pear.
No matter what they make or how they serve it, these consummate food professionals have one thing in common: the creativity and care they put into their work. Guided by your own personal vision, they’ll make sure your appetizers are haute, indeed, and that your cocktail hour is as exciting as the rest of the wedding extravaganza. Ahi Popsicle, anyone?