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Catering to everyone’s tastes

Q: For our big wedding, it won't be easy catering to everyone’s tastes. The groom and I love sushi, while our grandparents love their meat and potatoes. How do we decide on the food to serve? And, how do we decide between buffet, sit-down dinner or appetizers?

A: Think outside the box, and consider offering your guests food stations. This is a foodie’s dream wedding: small bites at different stations throughout the reception area, all adding up to a full meal!

Have guests that love sushi? Hire a sushi chef to prepare fresh sushi to order as your guests select their preference of fresh fish and other sushi ingredients. For the carnivore-loving guests, have a chef carving station. The chef may carve a standing rib roast to the thickness and temperature of the guest’s preference. Offer several standard condiments (like horseradish) and unusual condiments (like guava ketchup, sriracha mayonnaise, etc.). All guests, but especially vegetarians, will love a Caprese salad station, where they may select the organic heirloom tomato of their choice to be made into an individual salad while they watch. Show off to your guests with wild-caught Alaskan seafood! Have a seafood bar with an attendant to assist the guests in selecting that prime crab leg, Kachemak Bay oyster, Alaskan spot shrimp, salmon, etc.

Here are a few questions that need to be addressed before deciding the style of wedding meal:

• What is your budget number per guest? This will help determine your meal style.

• Butler-served dinners are typically more expensive due to the increase in staff.

• Buffet dinners are wonderful and can be garnished to "wow" your guests. And buffet dinners tend to be less expensive than butler served dinners. On a typical buffet dinner, the caterer will provide enough staff to serve each guest at the individual food stations. This is for portion control, sanitary concerns, and to have staff available to explain what each food item is.

• Heavy appetizer events are becoming more popular. This option is typically less expensive than a buffet or butler served dinner. A large number of appetizers may equal a full meal, and it gives your guests a great selection.

• Will there be alcohol? If yes, you need to have lots of appetizers ready for your guests to off-set the effects of the alcohol.

• Is your venue’s space adequate for a butler-style food service? This service takes more room for the caterers to set up and assemble plates and requires dedicated electrical outlets for hot food holding boxes. Plus there's the added expense of staff to provide a butler-served meal to your guests.

Chef Susie Linford has worked in food service since the 1970s. In 2018, Chef Susie was nominated for the James Beard Foundation in the Best Chef of Northwest USA category. She and her husband Christopher Linford started Alaska Coastal Catering, LLC., in 2010, offering high-end catering services for 2 to 500 guest events. Visit