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Rubbery chicken, over- (or under-) dressed salads, bread rolls that feel like rocks: we've all experienced bland (or straight up bad!) wedding food. So if you're the type of bride who cares more about heirloom carrots than heirloom carats, you may want to use your wedding-day splurge to hire a top chef to cater your wedding. Here are a few of our favorites!
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The Chef: Tim Love
The acclaimed Texas-based chef has made a name for himself in the Lone Star State with his "urban Western" cooking, influenced by Western ingredients that have been around since the 1800's. Love—who runs six restaurants (including his new spot Lonesome Dove Austin)—also presides over Tim Love Catering, for which he can create everything from "fire stations" (paella or gumbo cooked over an open flame) to seated dinners with dishes like South Texas venison served with sweet potato, Spanish chorizo, and local chiles. The price: from $45 per person.
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The Chef: David Bouley
One way to put a decidedly French spin on your wedding day? Have the chef of New York's Bouley restaurant create the menu. Three- and four-course options are available and include locally inspired dishes like organic Long Island duck and New England black sea bass. The price: from $175 per person for three courses.
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The renowned chef—who recently shared tips with Martha Stewart Weddings on how to create a successful wedding-day menu—has done everything from a peach-themed food station to a menu that celebrated a Bolivian bride and Southern groom's different hometown traditions. His latest invention: a vertical buffet, where guests can watch plates being prepared and serve themselves from "shelves." The price: varies by location.
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The Chef: Mike Isabella
With seven restaurants (and one more on the way in 2017), the Washington, D.C.-based chef has built himself quite an empire. Lately, he's turned his attention to catering special events, offering seasonal menus that can incorporate Italian, Greek, Mexican, and American flavors. Think dishes like melitzanosalata (smoked eggplant, roasted peppers, walnuts, and feta) and spit-roasted beef short rib with grilled corn, heirloom summer squash, and pickled chilies. The price: From $85 per person.
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The Chefs: Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo
Through their catering arm Caramelized Productions, the dynamic Los Angeles-based duo puts together custom-designed menus—though they also can serve dishes from any of their acclaimed restaurants: Animal, Jon & Vinny's, Son of a Gun, Trois Mec, Petit Trois, and their latest, Trois Familia. They can create anything from a Southern-themed event (complete with balsamic barbecue pork ribs and peach pie with bourbon caramel) to dinners with an Italian bent (eggplant parmesan, cacao e pepe fusilli, and tiramisu). The price: from $50 per person.
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The Chef: Daniel Boulud
Daniel Boulud founded his catering arm Feast and Fetes more than 20 years ago, and it creates customized menus for a whopping 600 to 700 private events per year, including 35 to 40 weddings. Couples can expect the French and Mediterranean flavors for which Boulud is known, though with more classic presentations and larger portions than you'll find in his restaurants. This means main courses such as roasted quail with grape confit and sauterne jus, and bœuf bourguignon. The price: from $105 per person.
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The Chef: Ari Weiswasser
The man behind Sonoma's Glen Ellen Star—and the 2015 People's Best New Chef, according to Food & Wine magazine—also runs Stellar Catering (with partner Bruce Riesenman), which offers family-style and buffet menus. The main protein, from suckling pig to spring lamb, is always wood-grilled and accompanied by seasonal sides like caramelized golden beets with blood orange oil and harissa crumble. Price: from $45 per person.