What’s Cooking in 2019?

With food taking centre stage at weddings, Kelly Chandler asks those in the know for their 2019 predictions and presents the must have props for venues.

Food in a bowl
Photo: Indulgence

Let’s face it, food and drink are one of the key ingredients for any kind of celebration or event, so it seemed fitting to focus this month’s feature on what’s steaming hot this year in the world of wedding edibles.

With millennial couples being increasingly foodie, it’s really important that you regularly review your menus, look to inspire your clients and potential clients with new workable additions and ensure you stay up to date with current lifestyle and eating trends, whether that’s with your in-house team or by reviewing your recommended supplier list of catering experts.

Edibles are oh-so-important in every wedding day and couples are increasingly food-conscious in all its guises so, as a smart venue, you need to ensure your offering of eats tempts the taste buds and creates the wow factor to secure those coveted bookings.

To this end, I’ve had the considerable help of a selection of my favourite caterers old and new, with a collective tonne of wedding experience, to share their predictions for what’s hot and in demand right now when it comes to wedding food. Now to the feast…


Sarah, Anthony and team from Oxfordshire–based caterers Indulgence know their stuff when it comes to bespoke, elegant weddings. They are in-house and preferred caterers for some of Oxfordshire’s best known venues and rightly so – they are at the top of their wedding game. www.indulgenceboutiquehospitality.co.uk

> “A buffet Jim, but not as you know it”: As the demand for a more casual approach to wedding catering continues to grow, feasting will be back and big in 2019. This time moving from served at the table to the ‘farmhouse sharing table’. Make no mistake, this is no 1970s dodge buffet, but something fit for the Instagram generation. Think a big rustic wooden table groaning with platters laden with amazing vibrant salads and grilled meats. But this will only work in the right venue with the right laid back vibe.

> Vegan – know your onions: Veganism took 2018 menus by storm and we only see this as an amazing opportunity in 2019. It is shaping our offer and increasing creativity. It is no longer enough to just know where your beef comes from, you now need to know your carrots and onions too! With the obvious health benefits of a plant-based diet, clients no longer see vegan or vegetarian as second best if you are creative with your offer. This refreshing change in perception and attitude brings with it the opportunity to increase your gross profit margins, something that has been very difficult to do in recent years with food inflation.

> Low and slow, wood fired and smoked: Slow food is moving fast; 24-hour beef and fire pit lamb will feature for us. Slowly cooked over the embers with an amazing depth of flavour and the added bonus of bringing some real theatre to your offer.

> Spice it up: Chefs will be pushing boundaries and mixing it up in 2019 just as much as their mixologist buddies. On trend super spices will continue to dominate – cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, acacia, and of course turmeric. Amazing health benefits and creative flavour bombs; what’s not to like here?!

> Bowled over: Bowl food will get a much needed update in 2019. It’s still an amazing way to entertain your guests but expect creativity to rise here. Out with main stream bangers and mash and shepherd’s pie, in with donburi, poke and lakas.


The Curated Kitchen brand launch
Photo: The Curated Kitchen

Dani May-McCallum is owner of this newly launched exciting catering company specialising in luxurious feasts, grazing tables and afternoon teas for informal weddings and events in Surrey, Sussex and beyond. wwwthecuratedkitchen.co.uk

> Sustainability: This year sustainability is sure to be an even bigger consideration for our couples and I’m sure we are going to see a rise in requests for more organic, locally sourced produce, with veganism high on the agenda.

> Alternative luxury: We’ll see the continuation of couples seeking an alternative to formal catering but 2019 couples are looking for luxurious alternatives that still create an unforgettable sense of occasion.

> Social dining: Sociable dining experiences such as grazing tables and sharing platters are set to be a key trend for the year ahead but they will need to be less rustic than we have seen before.

> Styling: Food will play a bigger part in the overall styling – think show-stoppingly styled platters and grazing tables laden with locally sourced, organic produce and piled high with beautiful handmade treats and delicacies to create focal and discussion points.


Our dear friends at Caper & Berry are passionate foodies who deliver unique events with panache and personality. I’ve worked with them to all sorts of wedding briefs in private homes, tents and fields and at leading light venues such as Hedsor House and Somerley House respectively. www.caperandberry.co.uk

> Ottolenghi sharing: 2018 was the return of the traditional three course seated meal but 2019 is taking a complete U-turn. Brides and grooms are looking for vibrant, interesting sharing meals, with a real nod towards Ottolenghi.

> Vegan: Veganism is becoming more and more popular and you will continue to see this in 2019. Restaurants and brides and grooms are incorporating vegan options into their menus. We are big fans of vegan starters, they look stunning and are packed full of flavour. A few of our favourites are ‘fig and walnut’ (fresh fig, toasted walnut and baby herb salad drizzled with a honey mustard dressing and edible flowers) and ‘balsamic peach’ (balsamic roasted peach, toasted hazelnut, home dried tomato and baby leaf salad finished with extra virgin olive oil).

> Bare naked: when it comes to table settings we are preparing for a lot of paired back, rustic luxury. A focus on beautiful textures but not going over the top.

> Sustainability: The events industry is finally putting huge emphasis on sustainability and we couldn’t be more pleased. 2018 saw the end of single use plastics and over the next 12 months there will continue to be more legislation to promote sustainability in the events and wedding industries.

> Local produce: This has always been hugely important to us but, with a question mark on what’s happening in March, shopping locally has never been more relevant. We are surrounded by incredible suppliers and producers and have always chosen to use them due to the quality of the produce not just because they are so close.

Food spread out on table

So I think you can see our catering friends definitely share some trends and predictions (but with their own unique twists) which is always good to know!

And don’t forget to check out the websites of these brilliant caterers if you’re looking for new additions to your venue offerings – they all cater client events of course but some of them offer a food consultancy service too should you want some support to develop your in-house options – do get in touch with either myself or them directly.


Making it easy for couples.

So you’ve noted what’s hot, but what kinds of things can you do as a modern venue to make your spaces as appealing as possible to clients and make it easy for them to adopt these trends, either with your own team or their choice of external caterer?

> A rustic farmhouse table: This has to be a winner for a number of venues and is multi-purpose. The ideal base for a delightful grazing station, dessert buffet or any number of interactive food and drinks stations, this has to be a winner and worth investment.
> Long trestle tables: These are very much in favour for wedding day dining and much preferred over the round table variety –a worthwhile investment, and the basic kind (in need of cloths) are not too costly.
> Cross-back chairs: The choice of chairs has to be a well-considered one and we know that storage, versatility, weight, ability to wipe-clean and more come into play. There is not one ideal chair out there, however from a wedding desirability point of view, the cross-back chair is a 2019 winner, particularly in a more rustic setting.

> Platters: With the grazing table and rework of the buffet on trend, presentation platters are key. Can you invest in a suitable range of platters, dishes and bowls that work with your venue setting? Think about presentation and creating different levels across a table, so not all low platters for example. Depending on your arrangements with caterers, this one could well be a team effort to ensure anything you invest in works for the caterers supplying your events, or if you’re a dry hire venue, then it’s just a really great starter kit that will make your venue more appealing from the off.
> Chalkboards and signage: Invest in some different sized table and floor standing chalkboard signs so that couples can get creative with their wedding signage, describing the menu or otherwise putting little foodie messages to their guests. With couples putting more effort into choosing local and making very conscious choices on their food, they are more likely to want to tell their guests about this on the day.
> Props: You might like to invest in some ‘on trend’ items to hire out on a per-job basis. Things like ‘donut walls’ (the actual wall you could build and hire out), drinks stations, bar units (we love a good old Prosecco bar horse-box) and much more. With sustainability and consideration for the environment a much bigger pull for couples in 2019, it’s likely to be viewed as a much more sensible option to source items from one place, ie. you the venue, than have endless deliveries and journeys with having to hire things in.



Kelly ChandlerKelly Chandler is a long term preferred service provider for exclusive venues such as Syon Park, Highclere Castle, Spencer House and Stoke Park Club. Kelly’s consulting services to wedding venues draw to prior experience in international conference and event planning, over 15 years of business management, and working directly with discerning couples planning their weddings in diverse locations and forging successful relationships with all components of the wedding industry. A former director of the trade body The Alliance of Wedding Planners, Kelly is a well-regarded innovator, mentor, trainer and industry spokesperson on and in the wedding business.

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