A ‘farm to table’ menu is both conceptual and practical. It revolves around simple dishes and hero flavours, reserving the integrity of the ingredients and the way they have been produced. Undressed and uncomplicated, farm to table dishes have a certain earthiness that is carried through the use of fresh produce. There’s no need for fancy sauces over here, farm to table food is all about organic flavours for a hearty yet wholesome approach to reception dining.
Shop in season
At the heart of ‘farm to table’ cooking is an inherent respect for local and seasonal produce. It’s as the name suggests – food that’s purchased locally and in season with little time from when it left the farm to when it hits the plate. This way the nutritional value of the produce is maximised, making for more flavourful and authentic ingredients. If you’re planning on having your wedding catered, show the team your ‘farm to table’ ideas and ask for suggestions of seasonal produce and recipes to match. Choosing your menu on what’s local and in season may make it easier to source and therefore reflects a more manageable price point (meaning you can spend more on dessert!)
Simplistic dishes, with organic produce and earthy textures, contribute to a relaxed and rustic sensory experience ideal for shared platters and banquet style dining. This style of reception has become an increasingly popular choice on the wedding scene, particularly for the more casual and intimate celebrations. And with good reason – there’s never been a better conversation starter than, “Do you mind passing me the beetroot salad?” Since the recipes are kept simple, with a hero ingredient and flavours to balance, the more dishes on the table the better. Guests can pick and choose what food to put on their plate, allowing room to unapologetically dive in for another helping.
The rustic quality of farm to table dining comes from using earthy ingredients like root vegetables, mushrooms, nuts, and some fruits like figs and berries. Adding aromatic vegetables like fennel to your dish will give a hint of freshness to complement the earthy flavour. With meat and poultry, experiment with different marinades and seasonings to carry a particular flavour across in your meal. Dukkah and za’atar are two different combinations of ground herbs and have a particularly earthy, Middle Eastern flavour great for coating fresh fillets of poultry or red meat. Whole grains and legumes also help to add a necessary crunch in the mix and are a great option for vegetarian and vegan salads. Balance the flavour of the legumes with a citrus and sesame dressing and add some goats cheese to soften the texture of each bite. Play around with different ways of slicing and dicing your root vegetables – beetroot and sweet potato are great in salads but can also be thinly sliced, dehydrated and salted for a healthy (and slightly addictive) take on potato chips.
The dynamic nature of banquet dining means that guests are essentially serving themselves to a portion of whichever dish they’re eager to try. In turn, the dishes need to be presented strategically to prevent any unnecessary mess (and chaos!) If you are having a food station or grazing table at your celebration then you have to be prepared for a bombardment of guests around this table when the time comes. Use crates, boxes, and platforms to create tiers to present the food, making it easier for your guests to see the selection and serve themselves without the sleeve of a dress making its way into the broccoli soup by accident. Put the salads around the edges of the table and present the meats and mains on the higher tiers. Place the liquid items like soups and curries towards the centre of the table to avoid unwanted spillages – the tablecloth can handle it! Ensure that you have an adequate amount of serving cutlery to help make the process more efficient. The dishes themselves should be pre-cut so that they’re ready to go without hassle or fuss. Portioned pieces like crumbed eggplant slices or marinated chicken wings are a great way create ease and minimise the time spent gathered around the food island.