The air is crisp, the leaves are turning, and comfort food seems to be roasting or baking everywhere. Thanksgiving is the perfect blend of family, friends and good food, so it’s no wonder many people claim it as their favorite holiday.
But do roast turkey, stuffing and Grandma's green bean casserole really have a place at
It's all about presentation, according to Joachim Splichal, James Beard award-winning chef and founder of Patina Restaurant Group. "Whether it's a sit-down or buffet dinner, a Thanksgiving menu can be very elegant," he said, adding that, "décor is very important." He suggests serving everything on silver, with gorgeous bouquets of flowers everywhere, in addition to rich autumn colors.
Incorporating the Classics with Class
Though traditional Thanksgiving fare isn't exactly fancy, there are ways to make it feel more upscale. Splichal, whose Patina Restaurant Group does between 175 to 200 weddings a year, believes that incorporating seasonal ingredients into the menu is key.
"Along with roast turkey and filet mignon, we might offer a truffle risotto or tiny roasted pumpkins stuffed with wild mushrooms and rice," he said. Though he was born in Germany, Splichal is a huge fan of Thanksgiving and the comfort food that comes with it, such as his favorite stuffing made with bread, caramelized applies and brandy-soaked cherries.
It takes a certain kind of bride and groom to choose a Thanksgiving-themed wedding menu, according to Richard Lauter, chef and co-owner of Savore Cuisine & Events in Beverly Hills. "Couples with a lot of confidence who know exactly how they want their guests to experience their wedding are choosing their favorite foods, whether it's comfort food or breakfast," he said.
But traditional doesn't have to mean boring. Savore has done unique twists on old favorites, such as butternut squash soup with candied walnuts, cranberry relish and cardamom cream; sweet corn tamales stuffed with turkey leg confit; garnet yam and purple potato lyonnaise with dried plums and yuzu preserve; and individual cranberry "brulees."
At Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, executive chef Walter Sterling is planning an upcoming Thanksgiving wedding menu which will include baby pumpkins filled with lobster bisque, seared Hudson Valley foie gras on brioche toast with pomegranate seeds, and slow-cooked-honey-infused pulled turkey topped with jamon iberico.
While some couples embrace comfort food at their Thanksgiving weekend weddings, others aren't as keen to do so.
A Thanksgiving wedding should definitely include pie, said Splichal, whose company just launched Feasts To Go, which will include pumpkin, pecan and apple pie desserts. "Dessert is very important," he said, noting that, "a seasonal dessert buffet or a pie bar is a fantastic way to end the meal." Of course, having pie doesn't mean you have to forgo the wedding cake. A pumpkin or maple-flavored wedding cake topped with harvest decorations is a beautiful way to reflect the holiday theme.
—Jennifer Evans Gardner