I've had a lot of enquiries recently to cater for weddings this year - and sadly I've had to say no quite a few times simply because I'm already booked. If a date/venue isn't set in stone then sometimes we can shoogle things around so that an alternative date can be found. This makes me happy.
However yesterday and today I have declined to cater for two different weddings - and both because I wasn't comfortable with the kind of food that I was being asked to serve. YIKES! Saying no to business is a brave thing to do. So how come I didn't feel brave?
But then I was thinking about this some more today and realised how important it actually is to me that I don't just 'do' what I do, but that I ENJOY what I do as well. Catering for a wedding is really really really hard work. Even with the addition of my fabulous new chef to the team, I'm typically on my feet from 6 in the morning until 11pm. Before this and after this (and not including the week's solid preparation before hand), there is the drive to and from the venue. The loading, the unloading, the setting up, the making sure you haven't forgotten anything, the checking of equipment, filling out of paperwork, briefing of staff - and that's usually before we've even started cooking. Sometimes the kitchen is downstairs and the dining is upstairs - I never understand why I'm not a size 6 doing this job - and then I remember that I like puddings a lot!! Or else there's a mile of corridors between where we cook and where everyone is seated. We typically cook for lots of people - draining and straining is a work out all to itself, not to mention the chopping and peeling and grating and every other physical element that makes you feel like you have run a 10K by the end of the day!!
What makes this fun for me is the brides and grooms and their families and friends first and foremost. Of all the suppliers on the day, I'm usually at the venue the longest - and therefore part of the wonderful drama of the day. And then there's my absolute favourite bit of all - the cooking: Menus can take weeks to finalise and I love this stage of working out with the bride and groom what kind of food to serve. People say that I've made a bit of a rod for my own back by not having set menus as such - but for me this is part of the fun - helping to choose food that reflects a couple's personality; their style; their own unique twist on dining that will have their guests talking about the wedding meal hopefully for a long time to come.
So why did I turn down the opportunity to cater for two weddings this week. One venue had a fabulous commercial kitchen - a dream to cook in. Another was in the most stunning location imagineable and would have well and truly satisfied my wanderlust. Both the brides were lovely. Really lovely. But truthfully? I just didn't click with their thinking around food. It wasn't wrong thinking. It just wasn't Lazy Sunday thinking - which is about generous local seasonal freshly prepared food served in a relaxed environment and in a style that reflects the couple we're cooking for. Does that make sense? I love the ages it takes to lay out a dessert table. I love piling sharing platters hi with delicious Scottish produce so that people go WOW when they see it coming to their table. I love that guests pop into whatever kitchen space we have to see what we're up to - one groom even licked the spoon: I know. Health and safety. (I washed it, if that helps m'lud!)
We don't really do stuffy, formal, silver service, 'eat your dinner quick because we need to get cleared away for the band' type cooking. There. I've said it. YIKES!! For me, and for The Lazy Sunday team, food is not just about filling up empty stomachs or speed feeding so that the next bit of the party can commence. It's about pleasure and sharing and chatter around a table. It's about putting a not insignificant piece of who you are onto a plate and encouraging others to do the same. It's about trying out new tastes, mixing up local produce with flavours from around the world. It's about conviviality. I know I've said this before, but your wedding is most likely the biggest dinner party you'll ever throw. And then some. Are you out to impress? Or are you out to make your guests what I call 'food happy' - with bold flavours, relaxed eating and a huge great big slice of your personality thrown in.
You'll have guessed by now that this blog post is in big part about convincing myself that turning down weddings on the basis of 'fit' isn't a really really stupid thing to do. And with relief I can say that I have persuaded myself that it was the right call. And to all my lovely wonderful brides who are the 'right' fit, I cannot wait to get cracking!! (no alluding to Easter pun intended!!)