With 30 years of experience behind his belt, Chef Eric Teo knows more than his fair share of what constitutes for a good wedding menu!
1) What should couples note when selecting their banquet dishes?
Here are some guidelines:
Your menu should and may be influenced by your theme, your guests and the venue’s ambience. Ultimately, you want all the dishes to be memorable.
For instance, for a formal setting, your menu should include the choicest seasonal delicacies and finest wines.
And you should work with the chef and wedding planner to ensure the produce is fresh, and that the main ingredients are not repeated in different dishes.
2) What are the must-haves for an auspicious banquet?
- A cold appetiser platter with five elements – duck, another meat, jellyfish, salad prawns, and bean curd – to represent everlasting love.
- The second course could be a soup with crab meat or dried scallops. Both mean wealth for the groom and tell his in-laws that their daughter will be well taken care of.
- The third is a roasted meat dish – duck, chicken or pork – that should be served with the head to represent good luck.
- The fourth is fish to symbolise an abundant life for the couple.
- The fifth should be a vegetable dish; usually spinach with mushrooms and abalone.
- The sixth is another seafood – either fresh scallops or king prawns.
- The seventh could be glutinous rice or noodles packed full of ingredients, like Chinese sausage,mushrooms, and dried shrimp as well as scallops. The rice symbolises a plentiful supply of food throughout the couple’s life, while the noodles stand for a long marriage.
- Finally, the dessert should be something sweet and traditional, like red bean soup with lotus seeds and ginkgo nuts, so the marriage will never turn sour.
3) What are the important elements of a successful dinner?
Every detail is important – from the venue and its ambience to the food and service, as well as the drinks and even your guests.
Just remember, even with the best planning and preparation, unfortunate situations and mistakes can happen.
Make sure you have people helping you in case of last-minute incidentals, so that you can focus on ensuring your guests are well taken care.
4) When judging the Venue Awards, you said that the authentic taste of a dish was important. What did you mean and what should couples look out for during a food tasting?
The authentic taste or flavour comes from how the main ingredient is prepared.
For instance, if you’re served steamed fish, the overall flavour of the fish and the broth that comes from it should be naturally sweet because of its freshness.
It should not be overpowered by seasonings like MSG.
The skin of a suckling pig should be crisp, thin and easy to both cut and bite into, while the meat must be flavourful, tender and moist.
And, when steamed, the lotus leaves of a glutinous rice parcel should impart a subtle, aromatic smell and a beautiful, smoky flavour.
Once you’re okay with the dishes, remind the chef that you will be expecting the same quality for your dinner.
It is important that during your dinner tasting, you remind the chef that the standard of the food should be the same as your wedding banquet, even though they may be cooking in larger quantities.
5) More couples are celebrating at unusual venues, like the open-air courtyard of the Singapore Art Museum. What sort of caterer should they look for?
It is better to get references that you can call from the venue as well as other contacts.
Online reviews aren’t always reliable (or even authentic), and you shouldn’t just go with what the caterer tells you.
The good ones will let you sample their food, so attend at least three tastings with separate caterers. You may have to pay, but you get to taste what you want.
Also, a caterer who properly plates a tasting portion is more likely to make that kind of effort on your big day.
Finally, no caterer with scruples will bail at the last minute. Still, you should make sure your contract has a cancellation clause. Your deposit should be fully refundable and they should refer you to other caterers.