I must brag that my wedding reception was gorgeous, despite some last minute drama - e.g. a change of venue due to the original reception hall SINKING INTO THE HUDSON (!?!). Since the change occurred only four days prior to the wedding date, the managing company promised they would make it up to us with a generously decorated reception hall, a few food extras and a discounted price. The new venue, Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers, turned out better than the first with amazing food, window walls overlooking the Hudson river, and fantastic interior decor. It remains the best day of my life thus far.
If I had to do it again, I think I'd stick with the river view reception hall, but wallet-permitting, a reception at the New York City Public Library isn't too shabby either. On Saturday, July 11th, I helped cater a wedding reception at the famous library and had a behind the scenes look at another version of the best day of someone else's life.
My day started at 4pm at 40th street and 5th avenue - the loading entrance of the library. I was given a special events pass and made my way into an area of the library off limits to most. For a building over 100 years old, the employee-only areas are surprisingly modern. I rode the service elevator to the third floor, met up with the others in the staff lounge and was given a short tour of the "kitchens". Now, when I say "kitchens", I mean the various random corners of the library in which we set up for service. There's the hors d'œuvre and dessert station in a narrow room off the first floor grand entrance hall, the cold kitchen in a corner hallway on the third floor landing, and the hot kitchen in the third floor spare coat room.
Working wonders in small spaces, indeed.
On the menu
Passed Hors d'œuvre
Fried Sage Leaves and Lotus Root
Crunchy Cheese Spoons with Yellow Pepper Mousse
Thyme Tuile with Tomato, Goat cheese and Basil
Poppy Seed Boats with Crabmeat and Red Caviar
Mini Crepes with Smoked Salmon, Sour Cream and Chives
Lobster Salad in Corn Baskets
Sesame Tuna Tartar in Cucumber Daisy
Cold Tomato-Watermelon Soup with Puff Pastry Square
Grilled Shrimp and Heirloom Tomato Salad, Balsamic Vinaigrette
Caprese Salad Tower, Balsamic Vinaigrette
Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi with Sage Butter
Filet Mignon with Horseradish Sauce
Purple Potato puree, Sauteed Dragon Beans, Carpaccio of Heirloom Cauliflower
(cookies were just used for the demo plate)
Mini Lemon Bars
Fresh Fruit Skewers
Warm Bomboloni (Italian Donut) filled with Vanilla Cream, Chocolate Mousse or Apricot Jam
Vanilla and Chocolate Mini Milk Shakes
Upon entering the main lobby of the library, guests were greeted with cocktails, various food stations and a generously decorated seating area. They were then escorted to the third floor dining hall where two long tables seated 180 people. After dinner service, guests were asked to return to the cocktails area for desserts and aperitifs. Finally, those who felt the urge returned upstairs where the dining area was converted into a large dance hall.
Towards the end of the evening, I found out that the wedding was for the daughter of a certain executive producer of the Harry Potter movies who shares the same last name as the movies' leading actor. Although there's no blood relation, I was told Harry Potter himself was in attendance. I tried not to geek out in front of the other chefs, but as a HUGE fan of the books and movies, I could barely contain my glee. After various attempts, I did manage to steal a glimpse of the bride, her bridesmaids and the towering wedding cake, but unfortunately no Potter. I'll have to settle for the hopeful thought that he enjoyed the dinner I helped create. It's something I'll brag about to my fellow geeks at midnight on Wednesday.
Up Next: This week I have three dinners at private residences in Manhattan and next week I have two cocktail parties in the city and a full day of catering in the Hamptons. I'm looking forward to seeing some really swanky apartments and homes. Plus, the closest I've ever been to the Hamptons was getting hit by the Hampton Jitney bus while crossing the street near Grand Central. Let's hope that's not some sort of bad omen...