With the arrival of autumn, cuisine preferences undergo a transformation. Meals become heartier, flavor profiles take on a comforting appeal, and people crave the spicy-sweet ingredients of the season. If you're planning a fall wedding, follow these caterer-approved tips for a delicious and seasonal reception menu.
According to Steven Salazar, catering manager of Chef Penelope's Catering in Nashville, Tennessee, fall is all about mixing flavors. "Pairing sweet and savory is the name of the game when it comes to food for fall weddings," he says. "This is due to people's palates tapering off the fresh summer foods and transitioning into the heartier foods associated with winter." Since the appetizers should prepare your guests for the main meal, choose small bites that incorporate a seasonal flavor profile. Salazar suggests sticking with crowd favorites, like pimento cheese crisps topped with candied bacon, a tomato bisque shooter topped with a mini grilled cheese sandwich, or mushroom caps stuffed with sausage and cranberry.
When selecting your entrée, remember that guests will crave warm, comforting, stick-to-your-bones options. Try incorporating autumnal flavors, but avoid serving anything extremely heavy, as these options will leave guests feeling lethargic and full. Salazar suggests red meat or a saucy, cream-based chicken dish, as well as more creative options like salads with gorgonzola and green apples, seared pork topped with blackberry gastrique, and butternut squash risotto or pumpkin ravioli.
Take full advantage of the fall harvest when choosing side dishes for your reception. Salazar prefers to use the freshest ingredients. "Include sides full of roasted root vegetables, sweet potatoes, candied carrots, garlic herbed mashed potatoes, and green bean almondine," he advises.
The desire for hearty comfort food also translates into dessert, and people often crave spicy-sweet confections during the autumn months. Think about your favorite fall flavors—like pumpkin pie, apple cider, and cranberry sauce—and transform them into a crowd-pleasing dessert. According to Salazar, many couples serve pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies. Other popular options include spiced wine or cider, bread pudding, crème brulee, pumpkin cakes, warm fig tartlets, donuts, and spice-centric cakes.