Wedding Guide

28 The Best of Monterey Bay ® Wedding Guide 2024-2025 Catering After three decades of catering some 30-40 weddings a year, Nancy Rohan of Paradise Catering in Carmel Valley can speak of change. Where a certain amount of formality was expected in the past, couples now sometimes call for a taco truck, a pizza truck—or both. At the same time, however, Rohan points out that meals served at receptions today still tend toward tradition. “For most of our weddings it’s beef and fish, 90 percent of the time,” she says. Those who keep watch of catering trends note that assumptions have eased over the past decade. It’s possible to find sushi bars or regional street foods, passed appetizers and—particularly—plant-based options at both rehearsal dinners and wedding receptions. But within these more casual offerings is an interest in nostalgia, including sit-down, white tablecloth multicourse meals. “Some people want stations,” Rohan says. Those stations may be interactive—building your own pasta plate, for example. “Family-style is very popular.” Family-style, where guests at a table serve themselves from trays brought to the table, is a way to share a sense of community. It is seen as a replacement for buffet service, which fell from favor in the wake of the pandemic. There are, however, two concerns that shape meal service at current weddings. One is a desire to reduce waste. Brandon Miller, chef and owner of the mobile kitchen Chef Brandon Miller and known for preparing authentic paellas—his pans and equipment are imported from Valencia— serves on biodegradable bamboo plates with bamboo utensils. And his preparation highlights another trend, for more interactive service. “It’s part cooking show,” observes Miller, who is more often booked for rehearsal dinners; his paellas can serve up to 80 people for full meals. “A lot of people take pictures. It’s a good crowd-pleaser.” Miller makes chorizo and stock from scratch and sources fish from boats plying Monterey Bay. He favors organic ingredients, whenever possible—and it’s usually possible in Monterey County. Local and seasonal dining is in demand. And that suits Paradise Catering, which has its own one-acre garden in Carmel Valley. For wedding parties, they are able to provide heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables just picked from the earth, when the season allows. “We try to do farm-to-table as much as we can,” Rohan explains. “It’s the way most of us want to eat.” Like Miller, they select seafood from local fishing boats. Produce is so local, she adds, “It comes from the backyard.” The biggest trend is variety. Just as couples are no longer bound to formal dinners—some even forego the wedding cake in favor of a dessert bar— there are caterers around to meet the range of requests. Casas de Humo Barbecue is a well-regarded mobile kitchen based in Salinas. R Truck dishes out Italian favorites and more. Roaming Feast provides for more dressy affairs. There are larger established operations, such as Golden Coast Event Planning, and new businesses of similar scale. Coastal Roots Hospitality, for instance, owns three very popular mid- and upscale restaurants in addition to the catering service. There are many other catering operations—and food trucks, and pop-up kitchens—covering Monterey County. So whether the desired menu calls for filet mignon, tacos al pastor or vegan empanadas, someone is ready to serve. In Season While many wedding receptions remain formal affairs, the trend is for more options. By Dave Faries Michael Dadula Michael Dadula