There are many things to consider when planning a wedding; the “to-do” list sometimes seems to grow rather than shrink. One category where almost everyone can agree is the most important (Yes, even the groom!), is the food – and for weddings happening in New Orleans, the standards are set pretty high. Luckily for you, there are many local vendors across the metropolis to help cross this worry off the list.
For more than 40 years, La Bella Catering (2118 3rd. St., Kenner, 466-4675, labellascatering.com) has provided catering and event planning to the New Orleans metro area. The company is full-service, offering linen, acrylic and paper accessories, ice carvings, stainless flatware and china as well as servers and bartenders to make the wedding day go by smoothly. CBS, Pelican State Republican Party and Endymion Carnival Club are all clients.
From the tastings to labor and clean-up, the company can work for a couple with five to 1,000 guests. A full or partial bar is also available. “It’s about priorities, choices and time,” says Vice-President Jenny La Bella. “As long as those are in order, and the budget is set, we can achieve anything.”
The menu is inspired by local favorites and can include hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, entrées such as crawfish pasta and New Orleans-style shrimp and grits and a coffee station with Community Coffee’s Coffee and Chicory. “I think what makes us different is our ability to service our clients off-site,” says La Bella. “We have the ability to do several things depending on what the couple wants. We can literally go into a field.”
Since 2001, Pigeon Caterers (535 S. Clark St., 626-0412, pigeoncaterers.com) has been the official food service provider for the New Orleans Saints. The company is used to serving up to 800 people a day with the organization, but it’s also equipped to handle smaller gatherings. The company can do as little or as much as desired, from supplying linens and helping with florists to just dropping off the food for the team the bride has assembled.
Pigeon has also introduced a crêpe “action” station to their continually growing lists of exclusive features. Action stations can create a more exciting atmosphere for guests. “As the company continues to grow, we’re able to come up with new menu concepts,” says Aaron Shaffer, director of sales and marketing. “We customize every menu for every bride. Our wedding consultant really works with all of our brides to give them exactly what they want.” One couple recently customized a menu to have one dish inspired by the groom’s hometown, one representing the bride’s and one celebrating their union and representing their current home together.
“Our goal is to provide really great New Orleans cuisine with a twist,” Shaffer says. “We really want to do something extra special while still giving a flavor of what people expect from the city.”
At Portobello Catering (400 E. William David Parkway, Metairie, 833-2120, portobellocatering.com), owner Loy Ernst Jr.’s motto is “We strive to make you feel like a guest at your own event.” The Portobello team can work with a couple from start to finish by handling rentals, bars, service and food, or just the food if that’s what the couple wants. They also plan ahead to fill specific requirements in areas such as budget, religious specifications, gluten-free and any other dietary restrictions.
“Last summer, I had a mother-of-the bride ask me if I could do a chicken breast just for her because she’s on a strict gluten-free diet,” says Libby Ernst, sales director. “I was able to make the whole wedding menu gluten-free for her; you couldn’t even taste the difference!”
Although the company has four fixed menus already available (prices ranging from $28.50-$60 per person), brides are encouraged to work with Portobello to create a menu especially for their event from a selection of à la carte items. The company strives to plan an affordable meal without compromising quality. Therefore, it outsources items such as china, linens, glassware and alcohol to save money. Portobello can make these arrangements or will offer vendor information to the couple to contact directly. “This saves them a good bit of money in the long run,” Ernst says. “Most brides and mother of the brides really appreciate our honesty and willingness to do whatever it takes to get within their budget.”
High expectations follow the Ralph Brennan brand across the city. The company’s Ralph Brennan Catering & Events (539-5510, ralphbrennanevents.com) meets the challenge to put on from an over-the-top fairytale wedding to a sophisticated minimalist wedding. The company can work offsite with the bride for parties of 12 to 1,200 to customize a private dining or full-scale catering experience. It also hosts events at various Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group locations, including Ralph’s on the Park, Red Fish Grill, Ralph Brennan’s Courtyard Café inside of the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Hermann-Grima Courtyard in the French Quarter.
Ralph Brennan Catering can customize any menu to fit budgets, palates and themes. They promise, “We do the work, while you play.” Not only can the company help plan the big day, it also specializes in bridal luncheons, showers, rehearsal dinners and brunches. “The entire weekend was amazing, and we couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate with our friends and family,” recent groom Chris McAndres wrote on its website. “The service was also fantastic. Everything from the presentation of our signature cocktail to the delivery of our dessert and cake went off with the same professionalism and class I have come to know and look forward to in New Orleans.”
For a sweet ending to an already fabulous meal, try Bittersweet Confections’ (484-0780, bittersweetconfections.com) truffle bar. Known for using fresh ingredients, such as creamy Swiss chocolate, the company offers a personal touch to every celebration. A couple can choose up to eight flavors from a selection of 18 for their guests to enjoy. Flavors include favorites such as bananas foster, crème brûlée, praline, raspberry and passion fruit. Chef and owner Cheryl Scripter will set up a tastefully decorated table and bring all necessary equipment with an array of platters filled with the bride’s selections of chocolates. The party bar can be customized for groups large and small, and all products are made from scratch. While guests enjoy the presentation, Scripter will “roll” truffles to order.
“The table was decorated so beautifully, and the handmade truffles were equally divine,” recent bride Elizabeth P. of Austin, Texas says.
After the event, truffles can be placed in small favor boxes for a nice parting gift. In addition to truffles, Bittersweet can also add additional desserts to the table such as mini chocolate pecan pies, meringue kisses, chocolate-dipped berries and a host of other decadent sweets.