I have a lot of memories associated with food. Truth is I like it. A lot. All of it. I can’t go near a frite and mayo combo without immediately being transported to a roadside shack in North Brittany where there were plastic tables and chairs and three shacks: You bought your moules at the first (the said plastic seating looked out onto the mussel farms, so I’m guessing this was technically the second shack, the first being those mussel beds just a few yards away). Once armed with a buckets of mussels you walked five metres to the right where you picked up a polystyrene receptacle spilling over with freshly fried sticks of potato, commonly known as frites and plunged a great splodge of mayonnaise to a well in the middle of them. You then walked a further five metres to the right and picked up your ice cold bottle of beer. There was a fourth shack distinct from the others where you could, should you wish, purchase a crepe for pudding. But they were out of Nutella so I didn’t. It is one of my biggest regrets.
You now give me mussels and frites and I’m instantly back there again. It may have been the food, which while being honest and simple was also simply amazing, but it’s also the memories of the place itself: the holiday: the company, the smell, everything. It all just makes the food part of the experience, and you want the food you choose for your wedding day to have similar capabilities in evoking memories such as these.
Here at Tigerlily we’ve spoken before about the importance of food. I mean, not just its necessity in keeping us physically alive (though there is that), but that food can be so much more than just sustenance, it can be something really rather special. In the same way that a smell can conjure up a vivid memory of past experience, so can, as it goes, a taste.
There are simply hundreds of catering companies out there but not all of them love food as much as we, and Create food do. Sounds like a very odd combination a catering company without a passion for food, but you’d be surprised. Your wedding is a time to eat something that you love, so never feel as though you have to settle: We’ve said it before, we’ll say it now, and you can bet your last quail lollipops with spiced apple and sage stuffing and brown bread sauce* that we’ll say it MANY MANY times again, it’s your wedding. Eat and drink what YOU love, not what you think you should serve. You’ll never please everyone (really, you won’t) so make sure that you please yourselves, because it is, after all, your day.
That’s right. YOUR day.
*one of the delectable choices on Create’s current menus
So, if you’re all about rustic setting and finger held food, then do it. If the budget won’t stretch to full silver service then don’t compromise on flavour and quality, rock it with a food station or three instead. Chatting to Miryam Farrell, wedding manager at Create Food it’s immediately clear that
a) This is a woman who loves her job;
b) This is a woman that loves the couples she works with;
c) This is a woman who loves food and
d) This is a woman who is ridiculously passionate about Create as a company (she set her mind to working for them and pursued them relentlessly to give her a chance, carving out her very own role in the wedding
planning and catering side of things distinct from the rest of the corporate catering). In fact, chatting to Miryam it’s clear that as catering companies go, Create do a whole lot more for their customers’ weddings than just come up with bespoke menus for them (there are off the peg options too), they add value and expertise across the whole planning process.
How many weddings will you personally plan? Probably just the one, and it’s pertinent to remember that the best of wedding industry professionals will have planned hundreds. Sometimes even thousands. USE their expertise to make your planning as easy and stress-free as possible: they know their venues, they know their flowers, they know design and Create clearly know exquisite customer service too. Miryam, it’s also worth mentioning, also clearly knows that every couple is different, and never tries to fit a couple into HER vision: she listens, consults and develops with them to make it THEIR wedding day that she facilitates rather than dictates.
I had the pleasure of talking to Miryam all about the angle Create come from for wedding catering, grab yourself a pen and paper because the advice and suggestions that she had are priceless for anyone currently planning a wedding… and it’s a reminder that food is never *just* food.
Tell us about Create and how it all started
“Create have been catering for weddings and private events since 1986 so have a lot of experience when it comes to delivering the perfect day for a happy couple. The Company began as Richard Groves Catering and Events and re-branded to Create in 2001 when we became part of The Concerto Group. Becoming part of the group was an important step in the business growing.”
What do you think are the big food trends for wedding catering and must have “divine” menus for 2014?
“Food stations are huge this year. There’s a really big move towards street food and having an interactive food experience: we’re seeing the food and catering itself becomes a talking point which is really exciting. In terms of food stations you name it we can serve it from a station! We have created bespoke stations from ceviche to éclairs and a whole lot in between. They are becoming increasingly popular for weddings with couples who just can’t choose what they would like: it gives them and their guests the chance to try lots of little things from our creatively themed stalls.
“We have found that having food stations to replace canapés gives people a talking point and gives them the opportunity to interact with chefs and get excited about the food from the off. “
Why work with Create?
“We’re a happy and successful team and we all genuinely love delivering exceptional events. Our teams are chosen for not only their food and design skills, but their personalities; Create is full of people buzzing with creativity and event ideas. We like to engage with our wedding clients and exceed their expectations.”
What process do you go through with couples when catering for their wedding?
“The process really does vary with every client, as so much of what we do is bespoke to each wedding. I work with clients from around the world and tend to work out the best way of planning to suit their life style. Couples overseas are the funniest when Skype can’t keep up with our creativity!
“I start from scratch suggesting venues or if they have already chosen one we can start working out what style of food and service will work best. The proposal I create is the ideal place to jot down ideas that we have discussed whilst ironing out the finer details in the lead up to the day.”
What should a couple prepare before they approach you for a consultation?
“The basics really as it’s vital to work out what a couple really wants (sometimes they don’t even know to start with) in order for me to tailor the right approach without making assumptions. As long as I know the number of guests, if they want a ceremony and their ideal location then I can do the rest! Create work at so many versatile venues, if a couple hasn’t found one yet I’ll suggest a few options that best fit the brief.”
How do you work in partnership with couples when you are designing and developing their wedding menu?
“Where, when and how are the key questions we have to ask any couple followed along quickly with what they don’t like. It may sound a little negative but it is far easier to design a beautiful menu knowing what they don’t like since you are far less likely to offend anyone that way! People are relatively fickle when it comes to food, if they see something on a dish they don’t like that dish will never get a look in even if it ticks a lot of boxes with the other half of the couple.
“Wedding breakfasts are usually based on sentimentality, a favourite restaurant, a favourite dish or a family classic. We have to be careful to make sure we do justice to their ideas, whilst making sure it is appropriate to the venue, the number of guests and achievable in the busy wedding day schedule. We pride ourselves on being able to design and deliver anything at anytime, anywhere.”
Working to a budget?
“It’s not the exciting part of Wedding planning but it is crucial to the success and happiness of a couple feeling comfortable with their day. I know the type of budget required for different venues and what you can cut corners on and the areas that you really shouldn’t! If a venue has a lot of distance between the kitchen and the tables you cannot scrimp on waiting staff or there will be a lot of cold food! But we know our venues and we know where cuts can be made if needed.
“I always ask couples to be as accurate as possible so I can be realistic from the outset. I pride myself on being conscientious with costs – no one likes a surprise that hasn’t been accounted for so we are very transparent with our costing.”
Final planning for the wedding day?
“In a world where e-mail seems to be the easiest way to communicate due to busy lifestyles, the final details planning is one of my favourite parts. We sit down and cover all of the minutia of the day so nothing is left to chance. Sometimes something will crop up but because the couple has so much confidence in us they know we’ll make the right decision. We talk through every step of the day from lighting to musicians and canapés to evening snacks. I get a lot of satisfaction seeing couples leave feeling refreshed
knowing their day is in control and they realise just how much has been achieved.”
And on the day?
“There is no feeling quite like being at the Wedding and seeing everyone’s hard work come to life to create the perfect experience for the couple. Clients have become friends and it’s such a great feeling to see how beautiful, relaxed and happy they are. I arrive to oversee the set up and make tweaks to achieve a smooth and seamlessly delivered day. The Bridal party looks to us for guidance and by the end of the day Grandparents are hugging you and Grooms are saying thank you in their speech. I really couldn’t ask for a more rewarding job!”
What’s your favourite wedding to date and why?
“The first time I met Gemma and Tim we clicked. We mirrored each other’s enthusiasm, love of joking and attention to detail. They were both actively involved, so much so I offered Gemma a job as she is so dedicated to detail!
“The criteria for the day was to ensure guests had a fabulous day and that’s what we did!
They were lavished with champagne, fine wine and well deserved flip flops! The Wedding was at Kew Gardens so we kept a very traditional feel whilst adding fun garden party touches.
“I watched the video recently and I couldn’t help but cry whilst remembering what an emotional and special day it was. We still speak regularly and I wish we could do it all again.”
Where do you get there inspiration’s from for your awesome menus?
“For us, it’s all about the seasons and great British produce always forms the core of our food. Taste is all about balance, each dish on our menu is created to be a harmonious balance of sweet, salty, sour and earthy tastes and textures. It’s about rounding flavours.
“Each dish is made up of elements which not only taste great individually, but that all together make it something extraordinary and unexpected. Menu inspiration starts with one seasonal ingredient or idea I am keen to work with, it’s then a case of building a dish around it. It’s a bit like playing “guess who” with ingredients, there are so many ideas you just have to whittle it down to the right combination.
“At Create we think about all aspects, so the presentation is as important as the dish: we’ll try each menu on different plates, set out differently until the team agree that we’ve found the perfect balance for the eyes and palate.”
Who would be your fantasy couple to cater for?
“I’d love to work with someone really unconventional like Lady Gaga – I would relish the challenge to find some really whacky ideas to try and shock her with!”
Who is in your little black book, hire, furniture, wedding cakes, lighting etc…
“Each venue we work at has a list of approved suppliers so I know which one will suit the couple I’m working with. We are part of the Concerto group so have brilliant teams that look after production, theming and staffing so we’re lucky to have a lot of suppliers on hand.“I do have a little black book of favourites but I guess I can’t give everything away so will keep it simple and say I always recommend the best supplier for the job for the couple that I’m working for. It’s my job to make it their day reflecting them, and I always go to the supplier best suited to achieve just that.”
All Photography Create Food
Words by Harriet Rouse Tigerlily