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Savor the Flavor: Food for Thought on Trendy Wedding Reception Menu Items

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By Henry V. Thiel

You have your future spouse, ring, church, reception location, and honeymoon destination. But what are you going to serve your guests at the reception? More importantly, who is going to help you?

“A good caterer will help make your dreams come true and stay within your budget,” points out caterer David Alcorta, knowing firsthand as both a caterer and a groom who married his husband, Craig Felderhoff, on August 12, 2013.

“I have been catering weddings for more than seven years. I pride myself with being able to understand and exceed my couples’ expectations. Plus, I will personally bake their wedding cake and desserts, which is my specialty.”

The LGBT community’s rapturous rush to marriage has provided an invaluable infusion of cash to the multi-billion-dollar wedding industry, and the unique LGBT interpretations of what a wedding can be have also given matrimonial aesthetics a boost.

Since the Supreme Court ruling, Alcorta has noticed that couples are having larger celebrations with more family and friends than in years past. “I am currently working with two grooms who will be exchanging vows in an outdoor garden. We will be serving champagne and passing hors d’oeuvres. Recently, we did a formal sit-down plated dinner for 100. Most couples are requesting a bite-size buffet, passed appetizers, or action stations. Action stations seem to be very popular because it gives guests the option of fresh menu items and the ability to eat at their leisure. The most popular action stations are carving stations with prime rib or beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes, pasta, and mini-dessert stations.”

But nuptials aren’t the only place to nosh on Alcorta’s fare. His catering success helped him launch La Frontera Taqueria.

One-of-a-Kind: Sandy Bubbert of Acadian Bakers customizes her cakes for each couple.
One-of-a-Kind: Sandy Bubbert of Acadian Bakers customizes her cakes for each couple.

Veteran cake-maker Sandy Bubbert has had her brick-and-mortar business for decades. “When I started my bakery in 1979, I made a lot of ‘wedding’ cakes, but we didn’t call them that. We called them ‘holy union,’ ‘ceremony,’ or ‘ritual’ cakes!” laughs Bubbert, owner of The Acadian Bakers, the only gay-woman-owned bakery in Houston. Bubbert is famous for her insistence on using French buttercream icing and baking all her cakes fresh to order on the day of the wedding.

“I can personally customize a cake to my couples’ exact specifications, using only the freshest ingredients,” she adds. “And I will deliver their cake to their venue in my refrigerated truck.”

Customization of the cake begins with the selection of the flavor. “I encourage all of my clients to taste as many of my 20 flavors as they wish,” Bubbert smiles.  “Most brides and grooms choose the Brownie Chocolate Mousse, Italian Cream, or the Fresh Strawberry Butter Cream. Most clients know exactly what they want. I merely shepherd them through flavors, designs, and themes. Over the years, I have baked thousands of wedding cakes.”

Considering her 37 years of baking for the community, she might be lowballing that estimate. “The most memorable is the cake I baked for Mayor Annise Parker and Kathy Hubbard’s wedding. It was a true labor of love.”

But cake isn’t the only confection showing up at LGBT ceremonies. “A trend I am noticing at weddings this year is that brides and grooms are forgoing the single, three-tiered cake for several different bite-sized desserts, beautifully decorated and plated,” notes Sara Brook, owner of The Dessert Gallery. Still, she admits that most come to The Dessert Gallery for the iconic wedding monolith. Many couples don’t bother to sample any other icings or imbibe in a slice.

“We already make their favorite cake,” laughs Brook. “And that’s what they want to serve on their special day.

“Our cakes are simple and elegant. More importantly, they’re delicious! Our cakes are made from scratch—no bucket icings go on any of our cakes . . . ever! There’s a reason we were OutSmart readers’ favorite bakery for 17 years in a row!”

Brook sometimes gets the feeling that making the commitment to get married was easier for a couple than committing to a cake to serve. “When couples ask what I would recommend, I always say, ‘Your favorite cake, of course!’ Layer cakes work best because they usually have to be able to sit out at room temperature and look beautiful for many hours before they are served.”

While there are endless possibilities for multi-layered gay-rainbow cakes, chocolate is the one flavor that tends to tower over all others. Luckily, Houston has its own chocolate guru, Gilbert Johnson, who opened The Chocolate Bar in 2001. “We have a broad selection of other flavors as well,” Johnson says—with a slight sigh, because he ends up making almost every wedding cake out of—you guessed it—chocolate.

“Many couples choose our signature cake, Night and Day, which is a rich chocolate cake with a creamy white icing.” Johnson licks his lips as he describes his masterpiece. “Then it is drenched in chocolate ganache! Not only is it incredibly delicious, it is glorious!

“We really love our same-sex couples be-cause they think out of the box, and really push us creatively,” adds Johnson. “We often incorporate candies from our full-line candy store,  Candylicious, which provides an even broader selection for favors. Some couples forgo a cake, and instead have an over-the-top candy buffet!”

Beach weddings are growing increasingly popular, which makes Galveston Island a great locale that has many luxe vendors just a cast line away from the beach.

“One can’t celebrate anything in Galveston, especially not a wedding, without seafood,” says Elaine Deltz, who is with Catering by Benno. “Most clients have at least one seafood entrée and some type of seafood on the hors d’oeuvres menu.” Fun and economical options that are popular include Miniature Crab Cake Sliders, Cajun Oyster Slider, and Shrimp Cocktail Shooters.

Deltz recently catered a male same-sex couple’s wedding at the Galveston Railroad Museum. “They knew exactly what they wanted,” says Deltz with a big smile. “They wanted black linens with white and deep-red accents. Each table had two different types of centerpieces. One, a large arrangement of gorgeous fall flowers and the other, a tall clear vase with white feathers billowing out of the top. They also wanted a beautiful sweetheart table, which was a massive table with a mirror top on a riser draped with deep-red fabric cascading behind the sofa where the couple sat.

“For dessert, they had a champagne tower, a delicious six-tiered wedding cake that featured a groovy tie-dyed layer, and a candy buffet.”

Jim Benton of Houston is another gay-owned catering company that has planned and executed all manner of events, including the wedding reception for owner Jim Benton and his husband Jeff Henningsen.

 “I work one-on-one with all of our clients to make sure the meal is exactly what the couple wants for their reception,” stated executive chef Kaicee Crowley. “We are a farm-to-table type of caterer, where social responsibility and sustainability are important.” 

“Some of our favorite wedding receptions have been under the beautiful canopy of oak trees at Rice University, opulent receptions at the nostalgic Magnolia Ballroom, and weddings with a very ethnic theme,” added Elizabeth Scott. “One recent reception featured four famous wedding movies as the theme, including My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Father of the Bride and Steel Magnolias.”

“And a southern wedding is not complete without a groom’s cake in the shape of an armadillo,” says Jim Benton, “and don’t ask how to make grey icing!

“And this being Texas, many couples want intimate private rooms,” adds Melissa Abrantes, marketing director for Tradicao Brazilian Steakhouse, “and beef! Our Rodizio service, where we hand-carve beautiful cuts of beef, chicken, and pork tableside, is always a crowd pleaser.”

One of Tradicao’s favorite weddings happened recently. “Two brides, who had been together for more than 10 years, brought their kids and best friends together to celebrate their beautiful love story,” Abrantes says. “They had a DJ, lights, and special mementos from their relationship, including flowers from their first date! There was not a dry eye in the crowd when they said ‘I Do.’”

So let your imagination go wild when it’s your time to wed. While there’s little chance you’ll get any sleep until the honeymoon, you’ll undoubtedly have sweet dreams with these skilled bakers providing the dessert.

Sources:

David Alcorta Catering
7507 Hammerly Blvd.
281.501.1660
davidalcorta.net

Acadian Bakers
604 W. Alabama St.
713.520.1484
acadianbakers.com

Dessert Gallery Bakery & Café
3600 Kirby Dr.
713.522.9999
dessertgallery.com

The Chocolate Bar
1835 W. Alabama St.
713.520.8599
theoriginalchocolatebar.com

Catering by Benno
112 28th St., Galveston
409.762.3666
bennosofgalveston.com

Jim Benton of Houston
2811 Eastman St.
713.802.2860
jimbentonhouston.com

Tradicao Brazilian Steakhouse
12000 SW Freeway,
Meadows Place, TX
281.277.9292
201 West Bay Area Blvd.,
Webster, TX
281-557-9999
tradicaosteakhouse.com

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