We have become a nation of foodies – ever more discerning and ever more adventurous on our search for the next great meal out.
Restaurants and pop-ups are springing up all over London, food festivals are thronging and street food markets are thriving. Apart from our expanding waistlines, what’s not to like?
This does, however, provide somewhat of a challenge when you are making a simcha. When your guests spend a large amount of their time (and money) devouring exciting 25-ingredient dishes at the latest Middle-Eastern opening in Soho or queueing up for so-good-the-calories-don’t-count innovative indulgences such as halloumi fries at street food markets, you want to make sure that the food at your event passes muster rather than needing someone to pass the mustard.
Food Story caterers rose to this challenge from the off. “Our menus represent a departure from the kosher ordinary,” says managing director Matt Rickard. “There’s no meat-and-two-veg in sight. We push ourselves to align our menus with award-winning restaurants and submerge ourselves in the restaurant experience as much as possible to stay on top of current trends and service etiquette. We change our menus seasonally and offer bespoke menus where the client sits with us to draft their own special menu.”
Food Story has a strong focus on sourcing the best produce available and pays close attention to the development process, which includes flavour, texture and the guest experience in its entirety.
“We strongly believe in our product as restaurant food, and this is reflected in everything we do, from our uniforms and the modern table settings (including the cutlery, glassware and our choice of plates) to the food and the service,” says Matt. As a testament to this ethos, Food Story is looking into launching a pop-up restaurant.
Stephanie Cramer of Salt Caterers says that food and service is key to any event, exactly as you would expect at a first-class restaurant. “Most of our chefs also work in five-star restaurants and they translate their non-kosher restaurant experience to the kosher catering world,” she says. “A recent client wrote to us after her wedding to say that the dining and service experience was as good as she had experienced at any top restaurant.”
Presentation is absolutely key in a world where self-confessed foodies regularly post photographs of their food on social media. “If people snap photos of our food, we take that as a compliment,” says Matt. “It’s the way of the world now and some guests are proving to be rather good at it!’
Stephanie agrees: “When guests take photographs of food at my events I am really flattered. Plus there’s the added bonus that people posting on Facebook and Instagram is instant free advertising for Salt Caterers.”
Individual stands such as sweetie stalls and chocolate fountains have long been a ‘thing’ at bar and batmitzvahs, but have really come into their own since street food has become so popular, and are now being seen regularly at weddings too. There’s a huge amount of choice out there and some great new ideas popping up.
Bubble Waffle is an innovative new dessert from the team behind The Falafel Queen, which you may have spotted if you do the rounds of street food markets.
A concept that originated in Hong Kong, where it quickly became a craze, Bubble Waffle is a bubble cone that can be filled with all sorts of sweet treats – cream, Oreos and salted caramel sprinkles anyone?
“Our Bubble Waffle is great fun and creates a talking point at any function,” says brains-behind-the-brand Star Covington.
In a similar vein, Choc Me Up is dessert’s answer to shawarma – imagine a rotating chocolate doner kebab, where the shavings get piled into a pancake ‘wrap’, melted and topped with fruit, marshmallows, smarties, cream and so on.
“We wanted to give people a chocolate option that’s a step up from a chocolate fountain,” says Chco Me Up co-founder Micaela Blitz.
“Something like this creates a real feature at an event. It’s fun queueing up to get your shawarma, watching it being assembled and deciding on what filling to have.
This all combines to create a buzz. People love it!”
What ever happened to good old fashioned party favourites? Don’t worry, they are still around. Innovate Chocolates manufactures kosher Belgian chocolates and confectionery items such as fudge, honeycomb (milky or parev), toffees, peanut chews, chocolate pretzels, chocolate medallions with toppings, wide variety of chocolate covered nuts in (milk or dark), all of which can be popped into favour boxes. For something a bit more fun, they also do chocolate bars and lollies with designs printed on the wrappers.
Stephanie likes to add an extra something to events too and recently installed a caviar vodka bar at a wedding. “This was an absolute treat for the guests, most of whom had never seen it before,” she says.
Come along to Jewish News presents Simchas Live on Sunday 22 October at the Village Hotel, Elstree, 11am to 4pm.
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