What's good catering food to make that's hard to mess up?

I went to a tasting at my wedding venue recently and 90% of the food they had was just not cooked properly. A lot of things were dry, some things were under seasoned, some things were over seasoned. It was a mess. I can't use an outside caterer, but they're open to making whatever I request.

A meat carving station seems like something that would be hard to mess up but still taste good. Maybe slow-cooked chicken stuffed in baked peppers? I'm stumped.

  • Posted by: Kyle
  • February 4, 2017


Lost_in_NYC February 8, 2017
Wow we're really swaying one way or the other here for Kyle!

I agree with others who suggested have a firm conversation with the venue about the food quality. If you're already paying thousands of dollar for the place/service/food, there should be a level of standard given the event (hello, wedding!) It also worth asking them what dishes they do excel that you'd be willing to serve to your guests on your big day.

IF you're still unsatisfied and have exhausted all options, then it might be worth while to look at other venues that would allow outside caterers.

Good luck and keep us posted how it all turns out!
Kyle February 8, 2017
If it were that easy to book wedding spaces two months out I would honestly consider it.
And geez, I don't know. The food they sample SHOULD be the food they excel at, right? Like a sampling is them saying, "here's what we can make." Right?
But yeah, I already talked with their in-house coordinator and she was pretty much just telling me how the food is good there and the ingredients they use are super fresh, and even a person from France was saying that the chef made good food (as if the French automatically have better pallets than the rest of us). But I should be able to meet with the chef in a couple of weeks. There's a lot of things he's catering right now I guess.
ChefJune February 6, 2017
You need to book a different venue. You are unlikely to be happy with anything they prepare. This is your once-in-a-lifetime event, after all.
creamtea February 6, 2017
I think I would have a talk with them and firmly voice your dismay over the tasting and see what can be done. You don't have to be rude, but firm. The trouble with starting even a good caterer with unfamiliar food is that the unfamiliar food won't be done well. So it's certainly about the menu and you're right to try to come up with things that are hard to ruin, but also about voicing your disappointment and expectations that they do better. I regret I didn't say something to my caterers in the past for special events. I think I was just happy to get them over with but the food wasn't as expected.
Nancy February 6, 2017
Lisanne, I was worrying along similar lines.
Wonder if our suggesting menu ideas to Kyle won't be much use if the caterer can't (or won't) execute them.
Maybe others with more knowledge of caterers' practice can suggest carrots & sticks to help get a menu the couple, families, guests will actually want to eat.
caninechef February 6, 2017
This is an excellent idea. Maybe discuss with them what foods THEY think they can do better, given how disappointing the preview was.
foofaraw February 6, 2017
- cold food would be hard to mess up as long as you keep the temperature cold (=ice and shaded area) and they are made of good ingredients, like sushi, ceviche, shrimp roll, anything lox, some variation of Chinese New Year prosperity salad (the best one have abalone and lox), Vietnamese spring roll, gaspacho, etc. I think it is good for summer wedding.
- food stations that made food to order will provide great food that are not overcooked.
PS: I also have been to great weddings where they serve prime rib roast (surprisingly not cold) that are not overcooked. Seems like to me the key is that they cook it to barely medium rare/rare on the middle, then serve rare-ish, med-rare, medium, and medium well meat to guests who requested specific doneness. They also put the uncut roast under IR light when it is in the serving stations, to make it warm enough but not cook the meat further. There is another server that brings new roast from the kitchen everytime the roast on the station is about to finish. This is probably depends on the caterer's experience level.
MMH February 5, 2017
Now you are making me sad. This should be something you love. Why don't you add, for all of us, more about your venue. You can make this fun. Tell us the trinidadi food you like. There are some pretty creative people here.
Kyle February 5, 2017
You're telling me. Nothing makes me sadder than mediocre (or bad) food. Especially mediocre (or bad) food that I'm paying several thousand dollars for. And I really appreciate you guys being so willing to help.

The venue, other than the food, has been fantastic. It's a really nice location, looking out over a deserty mountain. I have a nice drink menu planned out that I'm developing with my bartender friend that has fruity margaritas (with fruits native to trinidad) and some other fusion things. The cake I'm getting I based off of a "gateau marjolaine" - layered hazlenut cake and chocolate cake with a rum/praline buttercream. Everything that isn't related to their catered food is so far perfect.

Trini food I think I'd like to stay away from - it's a lot of Indianish curry like things with very specific ingredients and since there'd be people from Trinidad there they'd just be comparing it to the food from their homeland (which is fantastic food. I went to my fiance's sister's wedding and the food. Oh my god the food. I wouldn't even want to compete). Also, I've probably already said as much, but I really really don't trust the caterer.

Our original menu was going to be a mushroom risotto (we both really like mushrooms and risottos. I currently have a mushroom risotto in my fridge, come to think of it. I put pumpkin and clove and sage in it. Really interesting [in a good way]! Sorry - I'm tangenting I'm just really excited about how it turned out.) and a baked chicken with apricot glaze, or maybe a chicken fricassee, and a side of roasted vegetables (maybe brussel sprouts. I love those little guys.) I don't know how easy things like that would be to make though?
Kyle February 5, 2017
There is also a chicken frickassee resipe I've been eyeballing that has tomatoes and a slight chili pepperness to it.

Also this guy http://www.chilipeppermadness.com/chili-pepper-recipes/stuffed-chili-peppers/chipotle-chicken-stuffed-peppers
Lost_in_NYC February 5, 2017
Do you have a theme or particular cuisine you'd like to lean towards for your wedding?

Congrats btw! :-)
Kyle February 5, 2017
I've given up on thinking about theme at this point. I just want it to be edible. The food sampling they has was just.. so sad.

We're kind of doing a mix of Southwestern and Caribbean (I'm from Arizona, and she's from Trinidad and Tobago) for most of it. I don't trust most people enough to make Trini food (unless they themselves are Trini) and they had some Mexican food that was just sad how poorly executed it was.
Nancy February 5, 2017
If you're going to do stations and want a meat that will be both cooked through and yet moist, choose one or more of long cooked or smoked meats: brisket (regular or corned beef), Texas chili (beef no beans), pulled pork, jerk chicken.
I know these don't sound like your normal, formal wedding mains. On the other hand, many of us would prefer them to the rubber chicken-fake French fare we oftern get at these celebrations.
P.S. if you want to accommodate those who don't eat meat, include a fish chowder and a vegetable casserole (root vegetables in winter, ratatouille in summer).
MMH February 5, 2017
I agree with Nancy. We've had so many rubber chickens that even when we attend high end large events, it's a relief to have something of quality even if it's a more casual sort of food.
MMH February 5, 2017
We attend lots of catered events. Food stations seem to be big right now with food that is almost made to order - mac & cheese food station with toppings, omelette stations, taco/fajita bars, carving stations, pasta bars etc
Recommended by Food52