7 dishes you should never serve at your wedding, according to chefs

Business Insider US
  • Planning a wedding can be hard, especially if you have a large group of guests.
  • INSIDER asked some chefs which wedding dish they would most like to ban from the menu.
  • You don't want to have garlic breath at a wedding.

A wedding often involves a large group of guests, meaning tough decisions about which menu items to include.

Because these difficult choices shouldn't be made without some professional guidance, we asked a group of chefs to name the dish they'd most like to ban from wedding menus for good. Here are seven wedding eats that deserve to be crossed off your list.

Salads with "delicate greens" like mesclun or baby lettuces don't last long once dressing comes into play.

If you're serving salad at your reception, you'll probably have pre-dressed greens offered up to your guests. However, as wedding dinner services tend to take a while, focus on hearty greens that hold up over time and won't wilt once the dressing is applied.

Steve Fortunato, the CEO and founder of Los Angeles-based caterers Hospitality Collaborative, told INSIDER that "if you want a salad at your wedding, steer clear of 'spring greens' or 'baby lettuces.' [Stay away from] delicate greens that won't hold dressing for 10 or 15 minutes without getting soggy. Choose a more robust leaf instead, like bibb lettuces or romaine hearts."

"Family-style" dishes sound like a fun choice, until you wind up with overcrowded tables.

Communal spreads are very popular in today's dining scene, and the trend definitely extends to wedding receptions. While the "sharing is caring" vibe of family-style seems like an appropriate fit for an occasion like a wedding, the chaos that ensues is rarely worth the trouble.

"We've seen hundreds of weddings that demanded family-style, spent thousands on their floral arrangements, and then watched guests move the centrepieces on the floor so they could navigate all the platters of food easier," Fortunato said.

"If you want to have that communal 'family style' experience, a small tweak [like] plating the main courses [individually] and having a few family-style side dishes makes all the difference in the world."

Delicious though it may be, garlic can cause some friction between couples on the dance floor.

While garlic adds bold and vibrant flavour to dishes, it's no secret that it has a pungent effect on your breath. For that reason, Los Angeles-based private chef Ed Brik recommends avoiding the ingredient when planning your wedding menu.

"[I once] catered a wedding, and the father of the bride kept saying that he loved garlic and definitely wanted to include garlic in the chicken [option] for the main course. [I suggested] that garlic should not be added to the chicken because garlic can cause bad breath, and it can leave a bad aftertaste.

That's the last thing people want at a wedding. [I was ultimately able to convince] the father to change the main dish to roasted chicken, [which worked much better]," Brik told INSIDER.

Messy foods like burgers and ribs can cause wardrobe-related wedding disasters.

It's an unfortunate truth that many of the tastiest dishes out there also count among the messiest. If you're a fan of BBQ, loaded burgers, triple-decker sandwiches, or saucy pastas, you're familiar with the struggle of keeping your outfit stain-free as you dig in.

Wedding planner Whitney Cox of Vegas Weddings in Las Vegas cautions against adding messy bites to your reception menu. "The worst reception foods are ones that are messy or difficult to eat politely, such as burgers, ribs, or spaghetti.

Basically, any foods you would avoid on a first date, you should avoid for your wedding. Keep in mind that you and your guests will be in your nicest formal wear, and foods that could cause spills, clothing stains, or messy hands can be uncomfortable to eat. Unless you are going for a casual, backyard wedding feel, choose foods that aren't likely to be messy."

When catering for a large group, pizza's a challenging item to include on your menu.

The large volume of food required for a wedding reception and the practical challenges of keeping pizza pies hot and fresh make it a tricky pick for a reception dish.

"We're Italian so you know we love pizza - we could eat it every day and be happy."

However, when we cater weddings, we think it is best to avoid serving pizza. Keeping the pies warm, staying on top of hungry guest requests, and taking note of dietary restrictions make it difficult and unnecessarily inconvenient for a wedding day.

It might make the children happy but it doesn't suit the ambiance we want to convey with our food," warned executive chef Vito Gnazzo of Il Gattopardo in New York City.

Sometimes, super-classic wedding entree choices, like chicken cordon bleu, should go ahead and retire.

Chicken cordon bleu - also known as a breaded chicken breast stuffed with ham and cheese - has a popular reputation as a crowd-pleasing dish for catered meals, at least, among those guests who consume meat. However, it's also a heavy entree, and it's easy for guests to walk away from the dinner table feeling weighed down and sluggish after dining on chicken cordon bleu.

Chef Hugo Bolanos of Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel Air, who handles wedding menus for the restaurant, would prefer to see chicken cordon bleu disappear for good.

"For me, a big wedding no-no is picking chicken cordon bleu as the main course. It's a culinary murder. A piece of chicken wrapped around a piece of ham stuffed with cheese? I see this dish and I get scared," Bolanos told INSIDER.

If you have a sizeable guest list, consider avoiding white fish or any other particularly lean seafood items.

Once your wedding guest list starts to rise above 100-ish people, it's important to focus on dishes that can be easily replicated and can withstand long services. For these reasons, white fish and 'lean' fishes don't work well for a larger-format wedding reception.

"Any [cooked] lean/white fish is awful for a large format wedding. There is almost no room for error when you cook a lean/white fish, so I typically avoid them when cooking large-format meals. Small weddings, like 50 people and under, are a different demographic. Also, anything super-detailed or intricate is always a recipe for disaster ... when designing a catering menu, you have to think about everything that can go wrong so that you are prepared to make the best dish possible," explained Brooke Stockwell, executive chef of K'Syrah Catering & Events in Santa Ynez Valley, California.

Wedding chef Andy Snow of Feastivities Events in Philadelphia pointed out one white fish that he'd particularly avoid at a wedding reception is escolar.

"Escolar, also known as butterfish, walu walu or waloo, [is a] firm-fleshed white fish, inexpensive and delicious. The problem is it has extremely high gempylotoxin content that wreaks havoc on the gastrointestinal systems of about 40% of consumers.

Onset can [happen] in as little as 30 minutes after consumption ... it won't hurt or kill you, just does nasty things when you're bustin' a move on the dance floor," he told INSIDER.

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