Begin With a Bang
"Since appetizers are the first taste guests get of your event—literally—they should be packed with flavor. A few of my fail-safe selections include bite-size versions of smoked salmon pizza with caviar, and grilled cheese sandwiches with chiles and prosciutto. Waitstaff can pass easy-to-eat nibbles, while something more involved, such as a panini counter with cheese, pastrami, savory spreads, and crispy bread, is better kept at an 'action station' that's stocked with cocktail plates and napkins where guests help themselves."
Go With the Flow
"We follow a general time line for the events we cater. It starts with a cocktail hour, where guests can stand and mingle while sampling the hors d'oeuvres and sipping Champagne. Next comes a four-course seated meal—I tend to find them more elegant than asking people to stand in a buffet line—with guests to toast the newlyweds. We finish with passed desserts and wedding cake, if the couple chooses to serve one. For me, a traditional cake display seems like a formality, and I'd much rather showcase a delicious chocolate dessert or other sweet treat the couple loves."
"Jennifer Lopez asked for fried chicken at her wedding in 2004. That might seem limiting, but a dish like that can be presented in a novel way, with mini versions served on cheddar-and-chive biscuits drizzled with a sauce. To round out the meal, look to the time of year. In fall, when it's cooler, serve riffs on comfort food, like roasted pumpkin-squash soup. If you're in a creative rut, turn to yin-and-yang combinations: crispy-soft and sweet-salty are always winners."
Bonus: Puck reveals 5 ways to update cocktail hour with surprising twists on traditional hors d'oeuvres.
ACADEMY AWARDS-WORTHY APPS
Puck served these one-bite aged cheddar and roasted tomato sandwiches for the 2015 official post-Oscars bash.
Puck makes latkes by subbing in beets for the usual potatoes and topping them with duck pastrami and apple mustard.
Instead of common crackers, he serves tuna tartare in mini sesame-miso cones.
Butternut-squash soup sans spoon, that's what's up when Puck's in the kitchen.
He also thinks outside the (cake) box and offers chocolate, cream, and strawberry push-pops for dessert.