Autumn is a season of plenty; so what should make the list on a autumn wedding menu at a time when farmers are harvesting their crops and growers are reaping the rewards of fresh fruit and root veg? Tom Hunt, eco chef and founder of catering firm Tom’s Feast, divulges his tips for creating showstopping Autumn wedding menus.
“Chestnuts spell Autumn in the purest sense””For me, it’s got to be 100% seasonal. Autumn marks a crossover of end-of-Summer produce like fennel, beetroot and radishes, along with classic Autumnal ingredients like wild mushrooms, Jerusalem artichoke and blackberries. Going seasonal gives a real sense of time and place, so I always start a menu by looking at what is available right there and then and creating recipes from that list.
“For me, chestnuts spell Autumn in the purest sense; they’re delicious roasted and cracked over warm salads or whipped up into incredibly moreish chestnut chocolate cakes.”
The best way to showcase Autumn’s harvest is to let the ingredients speak for themselves…
“Keep the food simple, whilst respecting the natural beauty of the ingredient, both in taste and appearance. When you treat vegetables and ingredients with a level of respect, the taste of that season quite naturally comes through within the flavour of the food.
Practice Root to Fruit Eating
“I practice a food philosophy called Root to Fruit eating; it’s an approach to life and food that aims to join the dots between us, our food and nature. Eating and cooking sustainably and healthily means better, simple, food. I write my menus based on the Root to Fruit Eating Manifesto:
Eat For Pleasure
Know Your Farmer
Eat, Cook and Shop Slowly
Eat The Best Food You Can
Eat Food Grown With Care
Eat Real Food, Mostly Plants
Eat Whole Foods
Eat The Whole Farm in all its Diversity
Eat The Whole Plant
Ensure food quality by serving food on sharing platters
“I serve my food on sharing platters to create a convivial atmosphere. But serving it in this way also allows the food to be served more efficiently, improving its quality and the speed of service; it also allows everyone to enjoy feasting at the same time!”
Create a show-stopping menu
“I’ve put together a sample Autumn wedding menu for a city wedding. The focus here is on flavour, quality and sustainability. And this quite naturally leads to a (mostly) vegetarian menu. We do serve exemplary organic and pasture-fed meat at our weddings, but vegetarian weddings are becoming more popular and fit well with my ethos.
Oysters are on this particular menu because they are an example of sustainable meat/fish protein since they clean the sea where they are farmed, filtering hundreds of litres of water a day…
Sea Buckthorn Bellini
Jerusalem artichoke crisps with truffled Jerusalem artichoke puree, made up as individual canapes and served on a oak plank
Beetroot leaf borani, Autumn crudites, served on an oak plank with a earthenware ceramic bowl
Oysters with blackberry vinaigrette, set up as an oyster stall, shucked to order
Fermented tomato bruchetta with 24-month aged parmesan, served on small plates
Chargrilled cauliflower, crispy leaves, ajo blanco sauce, crushed hazelnuts, mint, plated on a black ceramic plate
Whole fire baked pumpkin, cobnuts, pears, goat curd, golden saxifrage
Girolles, white wine vinegar, white pepper
Roasted leeks with thyme and honeycomb
Autumn leaves, flowers, Spenwood cheese
Cleo the Sourdough
Tarte tatin, creme fraiche ice cream
Tea & Coffee
Monmouth filter coffee, ivy house milk, rapadura sugar
Tisanne lemon verbina and spearmint
Chocolate salted rye cookies
Grilled Ogleshield British raclette, pickles, sourdoug
About Tom’s Feast
Tom began cooking at music festivals and weddings in 1997 with his best friend and chef mentor, Ben Hodges. Ten thousand people enjoyed their food that summer. Every ingredient was organic and prepared from scratch – even the black pepper was cracked by hand. That experience secured Tom’s love for food and set him off on his own business path as he began to be asked to cater for weddings, and subsequently launched Tom’s Feast.
Tom’s Feast dishes are designed to celebrate communal eating and the bringing together of friends – old and new. Dishes like Fattoush – a Moroccan bread salad made with tomato, cucumber and basil – are served on sharing platters alongside mains such as Mechoui Lamb with harissa and wild rice. For dessert they serve dishes that include grilled apricots, yogurt, toasted almonds, bee pollen, and English honey. Their dessert menu focuses on seasonal fruits and aromatic alternatives to cane-sugar like honey and maple syrup. Ingredients are ethically sourced following the Slow Food mantra that ‘food should be good, clean and fair for everyone’.
Tom believes organic and biodynamic farming is the future and buys from community farms wherever possible. Seasonality is at the heart of his food philosophy, and is something he prides himself on because it allows him to take advantage of Britain’s incredible fresh produce.
Book Tom’s Feast
Tom’s Feast is now taking bookings at tomsfeast.com/weddings.
Oogle Tom’s Feast
Make your mouth water by oogling his delicious organic dishes on Instagram @tomsfeast.