It's safe to say that Ben Lustbader, co-owner and head chef of Chicago's Giant, and his fiancée, Sarah Mispagel, pastry chef at Sepia and Proxi, know good food. And that's exactly what they plan on serving at their wedding this summer, catered by Honey Butter Fried Chicken. Naturally, the wedding cake will be made by Mispagel. As for what the menu will look like, the two professional chefs say they liked the idea of a picnic-style celebration. Their caterer's "fried chicken, corn muffins, and veggie sides are perfect picnic food," Lustbader describes, and adds the pro is adept at handling dietary restrictions and "open to creating items for our wedding that they don't usually make."
As you might expect, these two talented chefs "felt very strongly about finding food options that [both] reflected our tastes and would make our guests comfortable and happy," says Lustbader. But, he quickly adds, "I don't think we felt any extra pressure just because we're chefs." Instead, the couple felt confident in their choices—thanks in part to their industry experience—and they're here to help you plan the perfect food-focused wedding, too. Here, they share their best advice on how to choose the best possible food to serve on your wedding day.
Find a venue that let's you choose the caterer.
Lustbader and Mispagel wanted control over their cuisine and that meant having the chance to choose their own caterer. "If a specific menu or type of food is an important aspect of your wedding, choose a venue that allows you to bring your own caterer," Lustbader recommends. "There aren't a ton of venues that will allow you to use caterers outside of the few on their 'approved list,' and unfortunately, many of those caterers specialize in the same classic wedding food you have eaten at friends' and relatives' weddings your whole life. If you really love a venue that makes you choose from their list of vendors, I would recommend doing tastings with the caterers before you book the venue."
Consider the vibe of the food and service, too.
Lustbader and Mispagel love steak and oysters, they say, "but those foods would feel very disjointed and out of place at the wedding we decided we wanted," Lustbader says. "I also wouldn't want to be dressed to the nines at a very chic wedding and brought a plate of a saucy food that I would be too scared to eat in my nice clothes." So, they say, make sure the food (and how it's served) makes sense for your overall wedding theme.
When it comes to cake, looks aren't everything.
Mispagel says she has found too many bakeries focus on how a cake looks rather than how it tastes. "Many bakeries that focus on wedding and display cakes may sacrifice quality of the cake itself in favor of making something that looks beautiful," she warns. "Make sure you do a cake tasting with the cake shop you decide to use. If you don't like the cake tasting, it isn't going to get any better. Find another place that you like."
Make a menu so tasty you won't forget to eat.
These two chefs plan to eat on their wedding day—something many newlyweds neglect to do. They recommend that when it comes to planning your food, you "make a menu so tasty that even you won't be able to resist eating it," says Lustbader. "Many brides and grooms don't remember to eat on their special days. Make sure you book a caterer you really love so you don't accidentally skip the meal all together. No one will be able to keep me from my honey butter fried chicken on my wedding day—so don't even try it!"