Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Wedding Menu Q&A with Atlanta’s Talk Of The Town Catering

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Writer: Michelle Naik

What does a hungry 11-year-old boy do when his mom is studying for nursing school exams and his dad is a traveling salesman? Well, if he’s Andrew Brackner, he tunes into PBS and starts learning his way around a kitchen, with the help of charismatic TV chefs like Julia Child and Martin Yan. From these humble beginnings, Brackner eventually worked his way up through the culinary industry, putting in time as a dishwasher and waffle-house cook, before eventually landing at the Ritz Carlton, and getting his culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu (where he graduated top of his class, natch). An executive chef position at Atlanta’s renowned Talk Of The Town Catering & Special Events—clients include Missy Elliot, Steve Harvey, Tyler Perry, Usher, Shaquille O’Neal and more than a couple of NFL teams—eventually led to Brackner’s purchase of the company in 2010. In this exclusive Weddings in Houston interview we get the scoop on Brackner’s most in-demand menus, the wedding menu trends he’s tracking for 2018 (you can chat about these and plenty more reception food ideas with Houston’s own top wedding caterers) and his passion for bringing the taste of the South to events far and wide.

Andrew-Brackner Photo: Courtesy of Talk Of The Town Catering

WIH: Describe one of the most exciting wedding menus you’ve created recently—what makes it so fabulous?

AB: We have been selected to cater the wedding for the daughter of the president of the largest seafood distribution company in the Southeast. This is a unique wedding because they are providing all the proteins, including caviar (which we are serving on edible sushi-rice spoons with bluefin tuna and seaweed), diver scallops, lobster, king crab (which we are doing in Thai basil rolls), wagyu beef that’s being served as carved rib roast with maître d’ butter, and kumamoto oysters with mignonette ice, fresh chilies, chimichurri and pickled pears. The majority of the items will be produced at live action stations by our own chefs.

Talk-Of-The-Town-Catering Photo: Six Hearts Photography

WIH: What are some of your most in-demand menu items for wedding receptions?     

AB: I have learned that clients want their guests to be familiar with the food, but also want to include a unique twist. As an example, one of our top selling passed items is sliced quail breast with red-onion marmalade, served on a mini fried green tomato. House-made charcuterie and local cheeses are always a crowd pleaser, but we add a twist with our garnishes by including truffle honey, mango chutney, and pickled cauliflower and carrots, and we incorporate root-veggie chips alongside the traditional bread and crackers. One of our most popular stations is our carved serrano ham display, which includes crostini with a variety of spreads and toppings (goat cheese, small-batch mustard, arugula, pickled onions, shaved fennel and balsamic syrup). Our barbecue raspberry duck breast with butternut-squash polenta is also becoming a huge hit!

Talk-Of-The-Town-Catering Photo: Anna Shackleford

WIH: What culinary trends are you tracking for 2017-2018 weddings?

AB: The scenery! We are customizing more and more menus to reflect the location of the wedding. Whether it’s an informal crawfish boil next to the river, a small-plates tapas-style action station at a winery, or even a white-glove Russian-style service at a downtown location, our culinary services need to be reflective of the location to truly give the guests a cohesive experience.

Talk-Of-The-Town-Catering Photo: Farrah Brianna

WIH: What are some of your favorite display ideas for fun, unique, interactive food stations?

AB: Chafer-less food stations are a big hit. Instead of using a heat lamp for a carving station, we use a blowtorch to gently brush the roast and keep warm. We also have used marble tiles with sterno underneath to keep food hot. I am a big fan of large iron griddle plates—we use these to keep mini cast-iron skillets warm for our seafood-and-grits station, Cuban sandwich sliders, cornmeal-dusted trout, grilled asparagus and chicharones. The possibilities are endless! Another favorite is the vertical buffet station. We have used ladders with slates of wood, magnet walls with metal dishes, and stackable square blocks with glass shelves.

 Photo: Ben Vigil

WIH: Here in Texas, barbecue is BIG. How do you present barbecue in an upscale dining environment like a wedding reception?

AB: I like to give my clients approachable, familiar items with a slight twist. Some of my favorite ways to present traditional barbecue are grilled quail kabobs with peach barbecue sauce, raspberry barbecue duck with butternut-squash polenta. Or we might pass a mini barbecue-pork slider with mango jicama slaw, peppercorn-smoked shrimp, and scallops with spicy rosemary corn coulis. We even did a barbecue octopus station with smoked tomato, pickled radish, roasted garlic, bacon batons and a Worcestershire-balsamic glaze. I love thinking about ingredients and how they can be rearranged to fit the occasion.

Talk-Of-The-Town-Catering Photo: Anna Shackleford

Ready to dig in to your own menu planning adventure? Peruse our list of Houston’s hottest wedding caterers and culinary experts, and start dreaming up (and savoring samples of) a wedding menu you and your guests won’t forget!

Wedding Menus with a Houston, Texas-Twist by Lola Catering + Events

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Houston’s culinary scene is a fusion of gulf coast fare, mixed with Southern classics and south-of-the-border cuisine. So, it’s no wonder why the city’s couples crave a medley of flavors when carefully selecting their wedding menu. The team at Lola Catering + Events, one of the city’s most creative boutique catering companies, are experts at building personalized menus incorporating the favorite foods of each bride or groom.

We talked with Lisa Somera, owner of Lola Catering + Events, about some of their favorite Houston-style wedding menu items. Keep reading to get a taste!

2017-05-02_0009 2017-05-02_0007 Photos: Courtesy of Lola Catering + Events

Somera and team have loved spicing things up lately for couples who have a taste for Tex-Mex. Recent favorites have included chipotle nachos, pepper salsas made from scratch, vegan baby bell peppers stuffed with Tex-Mex quinoa, as well as a traditional take on fajitas and a tiny take on brisket, carnitas and chicken tacos.

2017-05-02_0006 2017-05-02_0012 2017-05-02_0008 Photos: Courtesy of Lola Catering + Events

Flavorful seafood with a kick has also been popular for Lola’s recent couples. Some standout items have been the grilled honey chipotle shrimp and the shrimp crostini — a deep fried polenta crostini topped with a butterflied jumbo shrimp, stuffed with herbed crab meat, topped with a portobello slice and melted mozzarella, then drizzled with sweet jalapeño jam. YUM.

2017-05-02_0005 2017-05-02_0010  Photos: Courtesy of Lola Catering + Events

And for couples who want their wedding menu to be a fun yet refined rendition of a Texas cookout, Somera recommends the passable poblano mac n’ cheese bites along with balsamic braised short ribs, over roasted garlic mashed potatoes within an edible sea salt tasting spoon.

2017-05-02_0004 2017-05-02_0011 Photos: Courtesy of Lola Catering + Events

Hungry for more? Get your wedding menu cookin’ with Lola Catering + Events today. We’re certain you’ll love your wedding menu with a Texas twist down to the very last bite!

Jackson and Company Food & Wine Pairings at the I Do! Wedding Soiree

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

There’s no doubt about it: With stunning floral and tablescape displays from Houston’s top wedding designers, the one-of-a-kind I Do! Wedding Soiree at The Corinthian is going to be a spectacular feast for the eyes. But our Feb. 28 Soiree is also going to be a feast for the palate!

When you arrive at The Corinthian at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 28, for Houston’s top bridal show, arrive with an appetite for exquisite flavors, darlings. Renowned Houston caterer Jackson and Company will be serving a superb small-plates menu of gourmet global food and wine pairings, inspired by our mouthwatering “Party Pairings” spread, featured in the very special 30th Anniversary Issue of Weddings in Houston…on newsstands now!

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Photos: Taylor Golden Photography | Catering: Jackson and Company

Get ready to savor such divine Jackson and Company signature menu offerings as dry-pot Sichuan-style red snapper paired with the refreshing tang of a classic Gin Rickey cocktail; blue cheese popovers with buffalo shrimp, accompanied by the crisp fizz of Piper Heidsieck Brut; prosciutto-wrapped basil-artichoke mousse with olive tapenade, joined by the vibrant acidity and fragrant fruit of White Haven Sauvignon Blanc; and truffle-butter-stuffed beef filet, paired with luscious Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon.

Yum. Just…YUM.

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Photos: Taylor Golden Photography | Catering: Jackson and Company

These are only a handful of the fabulous culinary delights you’ll enjoy at Houston’s ONLY luxury wedding event…which we’ve designed to indulge and inspire you, as you plan your perfect wedding in an atmosphere of beauty and relaxation.

Advance-sale tickets are available now, but only while they last. Get yours while you still can, and get ready to dig in to a wedding-planning experience unlike any other! We’ll see YOU at I Do!

Food Is Art at The Hometown Chef Catering Co.

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

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Photos: Courtesy of The Hometown Chef Catering Co.

When the wedding reception food is as visually stunning as the wedding reception flowers and decor, well…you know you’re in the hands of an expert caterer. The Hometown Chef Catering Co. creates food that is as beautiful to look at as it is divine to devour. That’s because owner and executive chef Julio Avila is an artist by nature, and by background: He set out to earn a bachelor’s degree in painting before turning his attention to the culinary arts, graduating from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, in 1997. You can see Chef Julio’s inherent understanding of color, texture and composition in the magnificent morsels he creates, including glossy, translucent smoked salmon and cream cheese canapés, vibrant ceviche shooters, and gorgeous little quesadillas that pop with bright, fresh pico de gallo, to name just a few. To wash the delicious down, The Hometown Chef also crafts colorful, beautifully garnished custom cocktails including the spicy Cilantro Mango-Rita, the almond-infused Forget-Me-Not, and the bright and bubbly Berry Splash. And they’ll work with you to create your very own signature wedding cocktail—just ask!

This top Houston caterer is equally adept at the interactive food arts, with chef-attended stations serving up gourmet pasta, mouthwatering tacos and crisp custom panini, with creative flair.

Plus, you seriously will not meet a nicer group of people than Chef Julio, company CEO Tiffany Avila, and their team. We’ve been so fortunate to partner with these wonderful Houston catering talents over the years, and can’t wait to see what they’ll be serving up in 2017! Visit The Hometown Chef here, and get a taste for just how special your wedding hors d’oeuvre, reception meal, beverages and late-night treats can be—then schedule your consultation and start planning your perfect wedding menu. This is the good stuff, darlings. You and your guests deserve it! Bon appétit, xo.

Chef Eric Aldis Debuts New Wedding & Celebration Menus at Agave Rio

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

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Above Photos: Ama Photo & Cinema

Tucked away in the lush forests of Katy lies one of our region’s most picturesque wedding venues: With Old World, Mexican-influenced charm, and state-of-the-art amenities, Agave Estates offers all-inclusive wedding ceremonies and receptions services that combine gracious hospitality with relaxed elegance. Joining Agave Estates’ popular Agave Real and Agave Road venues is Agave Rio—the Estates’ new on-site celebration space and restaurant, offering superb private dining options for engagement parties, bridesmaids gatherings and rehearsal dinners, along with a dreamy, rustic-chic backdrop for intimate ceremonies.

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Photos: Chuck Cook Photography | Photos 1 – 7: new featured menu items | 8: Executive Chef Eric Aldis

And here’s even more exciting news: At the helm of the new Agave Rio is Executive Chef Eric Aldis—a star of the Houston culinary scene. Chef Eric started his career at the Four Seasons Hotel Houston, and has made a name for himself in culinary operations at such prestigious properties at the Bellagio Las Vegas and the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans. Locally, Chef Aldis has earned a reputation for bringing sustainable food practices to acclaimed restaurants including Mark’s American Cuisine, Mo’s and Corner Table.

We recently spoke to Chef Eric about his partnership with Agave Rio, and what wedding couples—and Houston foodies—can expect from Katy’s newest restaurant/celebration space. Here’s what we found out:

HWB: What makes Agave Estates special, and how does the venue and its setting inspire you?

Chef Aldis: Agave Estates is special because of the architecture, the beautiful landscape…and a professional culture to match. The venue and setting inspired me to create a menu of American cuisine using local and exotic ingredients.

HWB: What are some of the signature menu items you are creating for Agave Rio?

Chef Aldis: Oysters Agave (a hearth-roasted Blue Point oyster with salsa verde, lump crab and Mexican truffle, grilled at 900 degrees); Chauvinist Pig (a house-carved pork shoulder with bacon, prosciutto and brie, served on brioche bread)…and Shipley Donut Bread Pudding.

HWB: Yum! How does creating menus for wedding celebrations differ from creating restaurant fare, and what do you enjoy about developing personalized, special-occasion menus?

Chef Aldis: We pride ourselves on providing high-quality restaurant fare as well as menus for wedding celebrations. Preparation and planning are identical for both. I really enjoy developing personalized special-occasion menus. It gives me the opportunity to step outside the box and create—especially when cooking for guests with special dietary needs and providing a true 5-star experience.

HWB: What excites you most about your Agave Estates partnership?

Chef Aldis: This partnership excites me to be able to provide an entertainment venue for Katy, Texas—my hometown!

As enamored with Agave Rio—and all of Agave Estates venue and event-package offerings—as we are? (And really, how could you not be?) Call 281.665.3337 or email Agave Estates at to schedule a venue tour or book dining reservation for Agave Rio. And…dig in!