Abby & Pete's Wedding
"Hey Eleanor, do you fancy helping me cater a wedding in California for 120 people?"
Eleanor lived in Perth, Australia. We were at school together in Singapore and hadn't seen each other since a school reunion a few years before.
"Yeah, ok". I hadn't expected that reaction. It was a long shot to ask a fellow chef to help me out, but I guess I caught her at the right moment. Dare to ask, is the motto, but more importantly was, Eleanor's 'Dare to do'.
We met up in San Francisco and 2 days later Pete (the groom) flew over on his little p lane (I'm sure it has a name) with Abby (the bride) to take us to Susanville to prep for the wedding. Both have a vast network of friends and Danyon (who I met years ago in Istanbul) came over to take El and I to the airport, saying he would see us in 6 days at the wedding.
The flight took 1.5 hours. It was exhilarating.
The wedding was going to be at the airport. We took a look around to see the lay of the land and where we would be cooking.
Our home for a week for just El and I was a wonderful airbnb not far away. Abby handed over the keys to her car for our use to get things we needed, transport ourselves from kitchens in the Airbnb, her personal kitchen and the one at the airport.
We loved the Airbnb. Each morning we'd see deer in people's gardens. Just hanging around or sitting on the grass. Our prep began soon after arriving. Busy here with smoking aubergines.
Abby's kitchen at home housed a lot of the food that was cooked already by her and frozen. She is the queen of the sour dough breads. Not only did they look fantastic, they tasted incredible.
We hadn't planned on making yellow tail gravlax. It wasn't on the wedding menu but Pete and his dad had recently caught some in Mexico and filleted and froze it. "Can you gravlax yellow tail". El asked. We had never done it but thought it worth a shot. It was, the highlight of the wedding spread, especially when it comes with a provenance.
In the evenings we spent sitting out on the porch with a glass of something fresh.
Abby's family were all gathering the day before the wedding. El and I put together 2 red velvet cheesecakes to help their party along. These were just about to go into the oven for baking.
We spent the evening working on the wedding cake and the other prep, plus working out what we had to do the next day in readiness for the wedding meal.
I think it took us longer to decide on what fresh flowers to use for the cake. I also went around the neighbour hood to see what I could find that could work.
We had so many helpers in the kitchen. Abby's Mum Karen, Abby's friends cleaning up after us. What a support team the couple had.
And then before the ceremony El and I discovered Pete's Jalapeño margaritas. It was going to be hard to limit ourselves to one (we didn't).
The wedding took place in 3 hangers. The first was the cocktail party where Abby had sweets and treats etc. for everyone. The 2nd was across the way and where the wedding would take place. Abby and her bridesmaid flew did a loop around the airport before flying in and landing outside the hanger. El and I managed a few minutes of it before heading back to complete the service.
And then the food began. The menu: Yellowtail gravlax, allspice beetroot, pulled pork on aubergine béchamel, tomato & cheese with basil pesto and sunflower seeds, chorizo and butter bean pate, hummus with pomegranate molasses, smoked labne with peppers, capers and almond brittle, halloumi with honey dressing served with Abby's sour dough bread. Main course was Palestinian chicken with sumac and caramelized red onions on flatbreads with pecan nuts, lasagna and coleslaw. Abby had an ice-cream truck available for dessert.
Cherry tomatoes with mozzarella balls in basil pesto with sunflower seeds
Beetroot with allspice and tamarind
Chorizo and butter bean pate
Fried Halloumi with honey dressing
Pulled pork on smoked aubergine béchamel
Smoked labne with roasted red peppers, capers and almond brittle
Hummus with pomegranate molasses
Yellow tail gravlax
Palastine chicken with sumac, caramelized onions, pecan (a homage to our locale) with yoghurt and roasted carrots
Apologies that not all the food was photographed. We were on several glasses of that jalapeño margarita by then.
Speeches before service
The party raged on with dancing and more drinking. It was a spectacular night. The next day we gathered for clean up and to cut the cake. Huck, Abby and Pete's son joined in.
What a way to start a marriage. Thank you Pete and Abby for having faith in me that I could pull the food part of it off. Thank you El for ensuring that happening.