Talented chefs can cook — and eat — whatever they want, whenever they want. But, after working long hours in the kitchen, chances are they aren’t preparing elaborate, multiple-course meals for themselves on a daily basis.
While extraordinary at-home dinners might not be an everyday thing, when chefs get married, they pull out all the stops. If they want to eat dessert for dinner, they do it. If they want a full-on bourbon bar, there’s no holding back. After all, these are the most romantic, special and delicious (!) events of their lives.
From lasagna in New York to sausage in Italy, and a ton of cities and specialties in between, here are the menu items that chefs craved and conquered on their wedding days.
Lasagna & Green Garlic Kimchi
“Since my wife and I both work in the hospitality industry in New York City, we wanted the food to reflect and highlight the best of the city’s ever-changing and evolving dining scene, the season, our respective cultural heritages: Italian and Korean, — at the end of the day — just be downright delicious and fun for our guests! Jason Pfeiferis is now the Chef of Maialino. I knew the Lasagna would be outstanding since Maialino is an Italian inspired restaurant. It turned out to be one of the best I’ve ever tasted in my life, and the star of the show for many of our guests. Jason and team blew everyone away with their Braised Korean-style Short Rib with traditional Bonchon — all served family style. Everyone remarked on how much fun it was to share food and how interesting the flavors were. Jason and team didn’t hold back on the spice level or assertiveness of the Korean dishes. My other favorite bite that night: the flavor packed Green Garlic Kimchi.” — Mark Rosati, Culinary Director at Shake Shack in New York City
“The wife and co-owner of Long River Lodge, Denise Canatella, made every dish for our wedding. My two favorite dishes were the Mexican Caviar — sweet corn, black beans, peppers and cilantro vinaigrette — and our wedding cake! Our wedding cake was rustic, just like the farmhouse, with homemade butter cream! We didn’t get to eat at our wedding, because we were too busy mingling and dancing, but when we got into our ‘getaway’ car, Denise had snuck in to-go boxes of every single dish she made!” — Samantha Carroll, Chef and Co-Owner of Sac-a-Lait in New Orleans, LA
Cupcakes & Wine
“I had a wine dinner with Justin planned in New Orleans, and said to my fiancé, Alex, ‘let’s take a trip out to the vineyard to check it out.’ She responded with ‘Ok, well let’s get married while we are out there.’ What was supposed to be an elopement turned into 20 close friends joining us in Paso Robles for the best time of our lives. Justin, himself, was at the wedding and everyone during the ceremony was sipping on wine. Our toasts were held in the caves of the vineyard, and we like to say we ‘drank’ our wedding cake — with a perfect Zinfandel. Instead of a cake, we actually had cupcakes after the wedding for our guests, made by a local artisanal baker. I’d do it all exactly the same again. Funny enough, though, Alex and I immediately went from our wedding, to Sonoma, for our honeymoon, where my new bride got food poisoning. I couldn’t let the wines of Sonoma go to waste, so spent a couple of days wine tasting on my own — something I still hear about until this day.” — Carl Schaubhut, Chef and Co-owner of DTB (Down the Bayou) in New Orleans, LA
An All-Dessert Menu
“We got married later in the day, around 7 p.m., so we did a dessert reception. As two 20-year-olds on a bit of a budget, we were strapped to try and do ‘real food,’ so we cheated a little and did all desserts: Petit fours, cookies, fruit, cheese, and a chocolate fountain. Classy, right? I was worried people were going to catch on that we were being cheap, but our guests loved it! I still have people tell me from time to time how fun it was to go to an all-dessert reception and pig out like kids. I enjoyed a little of it, but we were so busy running around thanking guests and making small talk, we weren’t fully able to enjoy it.” — Chris Coleman, Executive Chef of Stoke in Charlotte, NC
Bourbon Bar & a Keg
“Although I didn’t really get to eat much at my wedding, it was important to my wife Becca, and me, that the food be not only delicious, but also representative of the region. We served a local snapper and succotash and oysters on the half shell, but my favorite element was probably the bourbon bar. We thought it would be fun to do something outside of the traditional open bar at a wedding, so we had 12 different bourbons and set up a bourbon tasting alongside a keg of Fullsteam beer.” — John May, Executive Chef at Piedmont in Durham, NC
A French Country Picnic
“At my wedding, I created the whole buffet for over 100 people using my favorite recipes. The food emulated an elegant French country picnic out of a 19th century Manet painting — Gravlax, Foie Gras, salads, salmon, breads. I catered it in a way as to not physically cook or refill the buffet as well. After the wedding party finished up, we ended up having a nighttime repast at Brasserie on 53rd St. and enjoyed steak frites and other fare.” — Scott Campbell, Executive Chef of Butcher & Banker in New York City
Italian Food, All Day
“I have to say that my wedding in Italy was unlike any wedding I have ever been to. When we arrived from the church at around 11:30 a.m., the food just kept coming. We started off with Franciacorta Sparkling wine, hand-carved prosciutto and a giant buffet of snacks. Then we moved into a five-hour seated lunch with multiple courses. It seemed like the food was never going to end. When we got up around 5 p.m., we went outside to a giant dessert buffet with hand-carved fruit displays, piccola pasticceria (petit fours) and a cake made by my best friend, Andrea Forcella. At around 7 p.m., we went downstairs and entered another room that had another giant buffet of food and you could smell the cotechino sausages grilling in the corner. I looked out of the corner of my eye and saw my uncle who speaks no Italian, and my wife’s uncle who speaks no English, eating a cotechino sandwich. This wedding brought so many people together that couldn't even communicate with each other.” — Jeff Michaud, Executive Chef of Osteria and Culinary Director of Terrain Garden Cafe in Philadelphia, PA
"My fiancé and I met each other while working at an upscale steakhouse in Portland, ME, so steak has always had a special place in both of our hearts. We both bonded over learning about the different cuts and grades of beef and went through intense training on everything that is steak. We both love raw foods. Steak tartare, for us, is our favorite snack in the world – served on Truffled Potato Chips and features capers, red onions, duck egg yolk, top choice grade filet mignon and fried shallots. It is so important to me that it has found a place on our new menu at Warehouse, done in the same preparation." — Jason Daly, Executive Chef of Warehouse in Charleston, SC
“At the wedding, we had a ton of different foods. We did hors d’oeuvres for an hour and then dinner. It was not a formal dinner, but instead, little stations of different foods. The most fun was a bit of local flavor in the way of a made-to-order taco bar. We had two kinds: chef carved pork tenderloin and fried to order spiny lobster tacos. The lobster tacos were out of this world: dredged in spiced flour, just like the fried chicken I grew up on. I loved the idea of taking a luxurious ingredient like lobster, and instead of putting it on some pedestal, actually bringing back down to Earth in a simple and humble taco.” — Camron Woods, Executive Chef of Omni La Mansion del Rio’s Las Canarias and Mokara Hotel & Spa’s Ostra in San Antonio, TX
Non-Wedding Cakes & Pies
“When it came to the food, we didn’t want to be fussy so we asked ourselves, ‘What do we enjoy eating?’ For dessert, rather than going the traditional wedding cake route, we decided to get a few cakes and pies from our favorite local, Florida bakery. We both asked our families what their favorite cake or pie was, so we had a nice variety: chocolate cake, red velvet, carrot, apple pie, and lemon meringue. They were all displayed on different cake stands so the display was a very lovely patchwork of sizes and colors. For our party favors, we wanted something homemade and from the heart, so we offered small jars of homemade rye mustard and strawberry rhubarb jelly with little black labels and white chalk that read ‘Savory’ and ‘Sweet.’” — Kaytlin Dangaran, Executive Chef of Verde Miami in Miami, FL
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