Food & Drink: Taste Makers

The city’s top caterers present their best reception menus and planning tips

In a town like this, there’s no shortage of inspiring plates. Reception ideas abound at neighborhood tapas spots, farmers markets, and Sunday brunch spots. Biscuits! Bratwurst! Pork belly! Brussels sprouts?

But how will all those Northwest ingredients and all that foodie-city brilliance come together for your unforgettable celebration? Allow us to demonstrate.

At our request, five top toques crafted five very different menus utilizing seasonal ingredients, trailblazing techniques, and balanced, harmonious flavor components. Our first menu nods to the outside-the-box contingent with an culture-rich study of street food, while the next anticipates that some of you may focus your postnuptial fête around couture cocktails with exquisite appetizers to accompany them. On the other hand, many couples are going for homey, family-style dinners, and nothing says “we’re all kin now” like “pass the pork loin, Aunt Elizabeth.” Discerning palates start early in your clan? Cool. Our family-style bill of fare is kid-friendly. Finally, we’ve got one menu consisting of composed, meticulously plated dishes to be presented in a formal, seated environment, while another offers an upscale yet easygoing buffet-style spread. So feast your eyes on these delectable details, then work with your caterer or venue manager to put them to work on your big day.



Ethnic Street Food

By Little Uncle

Key to Wiley Frank and Poncharee Kounpungchart’s buzzed-about pop-up shop and catering business: a noodle cart from Thailand. And the recipes to go with it. Guests enjoy street food–style snacks plucked from Kounpungchart’s childhood memories, then queue up at the cart and choose a noodle type and topping. Additional dishes were inspired by the couple’s travels. “The discovery of the best braised-beef noodles in a dusty corner of the mining town Saraburi was an eye-opening experience,” says Frank. (206-788-6174,

Thai-style beef jerky
and sticky rice in banana leaf packets

Mini curried catfish cakes
with cucumber vinegar and fried basil

Flaky pastry
stuffed with yellow bean and coconut cream

Noodle cart 
Choice of egg or thick or thin rice noodles with Chiang Mai curry broth with stewed chicken, pickled mustard greens, and fried shallots

Vegetarian herbal broth
with fresh tofu, bamboo shoots, and bean sprouts

Braised beef short ribs
in aromatic herbal broth with bean sprouts and cilantro


Passed and Stationed Canapés

By Taste Events 

Katy Browning, event and marketing manager at Taste Events, says cost-effective appetizer menus are great for couples who want to spend quality time with their guests. Freed from table assignments, everyone mingles. She recommends a combination of passed and stationary bites. Guests thrill when executive catering chef Paul Rosquita’s on-target Korean kalbi and house-made kimchi go by; later they’ll gather where upscale wings and popcorn are offered at beer-pairing stations with locally brewed Elysian Zephyrus and Pike Stout. (206-654-3190,

Grilled asparagus crêpes
with lemon chile aioli

Braised kalbi beef short rib sliders
with house-made kimchi and ginger aioli

Southwest pizza
Grilled corn, black bean, avocado,
and cotija cheese

Summer salad
Watermelon and feta salad with corn
and red onion

Cape Cleare smoked-salmon flat bread
with Neufchâtel béchamel and fried capers

Hot wings
with Bavarian-style sweet mustard, hot sauce, and Worcestershire blue cheese dip

Cocoa nib caramel popcorn


Family-Style Dinner

By Lisa Dupar Catering

When it comes to elevating comfort food for once-in-a-lifetime dinners, Lisa Dupar creative director Callie Meyer says ingredients are key. Those kid-friendly cheesy taters? Locally grown diced potatoes and organic regional cheese, of course. It’s all about taking a fine-dining approach to home-style favorites. Meyer suggests considering 60-inch square tables; the corners allow extra room for large serving plates. (425-881-3250,

Walnut and fig brioche toasts
with potted Quillisascut chevre and pickled Washington cherries

Tuscan roast pork loin
with Agrodolce glaze, roasted Walla Walla sweets, and wine grapes

Giant meatballs
filled with rosemary ricotta with heirloom marinara sauce

Mini romaine wedges and cherry tomatoes
with grilled cheese sandwich croutons and house buttermilk dressing

Crispy mac and cheese tater tots


Buffet Service

By Portage Bay Catering  

Harvest season buffet spreads are ideal for autumnal weddings; at that time of year, images of lush, gorgeously laid tables abound. And because they’re less labor intensive, it’s a great way to save on catering, too. Katie Peterson, culinary director and event planner at Portage Bay, says the protein and grain are warmed in handsome chafing dishes, vegetables are in a family-style bowl, and those savory tarts—topped with an inventive twist on classic pesto—arrive on a large platter. Picture perfect and perfectly sensible. (206-551-4084,

Peppercorn-encrusted all-natural duck breast
drizzled with aged balsamic reduction and topped with organic sage chiffonade

Wild Alaskan cod filets
baked atop Yukon gold potatoes, topped with olive parsley ragout

Squash tarts
Local organic roasted butternut squash puff pastry tarts with parmesan sage pesto

Wild rice
with Walla Walla sweet onions, fresh thyme, and locally foraged chanterelle, lobster, and porcini mushrooms

Local organic brussels sprouts
roasted with pancetta and garlic


Five-Course Seated Dinner

By Herban Feast

“Formal dinners tie culinary expertise with skillful plating and delivery that requires precise timelines, planning, and staffing,” says Herban Feast owner BJ Duft. It’s therefore the most expensive reception service, but it’s also the best way to present cuisine techniques like sous-vide, in which ingredients are cooked at low temperatures inside vacuum-packed bags. Chef Dalis Chea utilizes the method to render lamb an even, juicy medium rare; the chops are finished with a quick, smoky sear. (206-932-4717,

Lavender cured salmon
Lavender jelly, rhubarb caviar, lemon mascarpone, choux puff

Salad of heirloom tomatoes
Caramelized figs, fig and balsamic gastrique, arugula pesto

Olive oil–poached St. Jude’s Albacore
Summer bean salad, harissa chickpea purée, preserved lemon aioli

Charred sous-vide lamb chops
Sweet corn and baby heirloom tomatoes, Golden Glen Creamery white cheddar corn grits, roasted lamb demi, corn pudding

Peaches and cream
Almond cake, fresh raspberries and white peaches, lemon verbena and cream cheese mousse