As promised, we are back with some awesome tips and trends with Purple Onion Catering‘s Joanie Rylander! We are super excited to share some of the hottest new ideas for your DC area wedding reception. Since food is obviously very important to a majority of our brides and grooms, we wanted to find out what is in and what is out in the wedding catering world! If you missed our post about wedding cocktail hour trends, you should definitely be sure to check it out!

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What are some of 2016 ‘s hottest wedding trends regarding reception food?

In today’s world it seems like everyone is a self-confessed foodie!  Satisfying culinary expectations has certainly become more challenging but not daunting.  Here is what has been dominating the food trend:

Local Love: The farm-to-table movement is certainly not new to the scene but it’s also not going anywhere.  Choosing seasonal and locally sourced food options for your menu is certainly the freshest and most flavorful way to eat, but keep in mind this does require you to give up some control regarding the menu.  Trust your chef!  With a little research and creativity you can come up with the perfect menu that reflects your personality and wows your guests.

Brunch: Honestly, who doesn’t love brunch?  Think of mimosas, bloody marys, omelet stations, waffle and pancake stations.  Daytime weddings are not only a refreshing departure from the expected, but they can be less expensive than an evening reception.

Cultural Traditions: We have long seen cultural traditions infused into the wedding day through the ceremony by many couples.  Now, this is being incorporated to personalize their menu and give their guests a glimpse into their background and really personalize their wedding day.  For couples that don’t share the same cultural background, we work to blend them together by serving fusion dishes.

Vegetables: Vegetables are definitely stealing the show as healthy cuisine is winning over heavy food, and sourcing has become more increasingly available.  Some of the hottest vegetables right now are brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and beets.

What items or ideas are on the decline?

Traditional wedding cakes still seem to be on the decline.  Many clients are opting for a small cake for cutting (in many cases to appease the parents) and then unveiling a dessert station that reflects their personality.  We have catered ice cream stations, pies, miniature desserts, crepes, and donuts.  Traditional buffets have also been replaced with more family style dining as guests can still have seconds but don’t have to stand in line and can spend more time interacting at the table.

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Have you come up with anything unique that strays away from the seated dinner?

I personally find that the average DC bride is fairly traditional when it comes to the style of dinner service.  Most of my clients do opt for a plated dinner or family style.  If they are willing to shake up the food experience, I find them doing this through the cocktail hour with a fun station or interesting hors d’oeuvres.

Are there any new seasonal dishes that you’re particularly interested in now? 

I just returned from the Catersource Conference in Las Vegas a few weeks ago and was really inspired by some of the new trends and techniques in food preparation that are being used.  Purple Onion Catering Co. has been working to incorporate some of these techniques into our spring/summer menus.

The smoking gun technique, which uses wood chips or tea to smoke food right on-site, was really interesting.  Also, using liquid nitrogen to present food in a different way to guests was amazing; it delivers the wow factor for your guests.

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What is your reception specialty?  What item/design sets you apart from other catering companies?

I truly believe that a clients wedding menu is an opportunity to tell a part of their story.  I think one of my specialties is gaining the trust of the client so that they have faith in me to deliver their story.  Getting to know them through their hobbies, favorite restaurants, family traditions, and travels, allows me to customize a menu that represents them.  From childhood favorites to cultural dishes, couples can showcase a wide variety of menu items that are unique to who they are, where they come from or how they met.  My absolute goal is for their guests to walk away saying “that is so them.”

Photo Credit: Purple Onion Catering

Thank you to Purple Onion Catering and Joanie Rylander for sharing all of this fabulous food knowledge with us! For more catering vendors, please visit our Washington DC area wedding vendors guide and for even more tips & tricks for your wedding, check out our Washington DC area wedding advice.

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