Celebrations | Get personal when planning your simcha

Soup shooters in egg shells from New York City kosher caterer Espirit Events. photo/courtesy ellen vaknine

If the words “kosher catering” conjure up visions of bland and unhealthy food, and memories of simchas past still haunt you, remember that planning your upcoming party doesn’t have to be dreadful. With the help of creative kosher catering professionals — or by simply looking within yourself — your special day can be just that.

By including yourself in the process of creating (not just planning) your simcha, the event feels more personal. 

Rebecca Friedman of Asheville, N.C.-based Farmer’s Daughter Catering suggests crafting your own table centerpieces as a way to infuse personality into the event’s ambiance. She adds that many clients want to work with the party planner, rather than allowing the planner to have total control.

Some may want to break from the traditional style of first having a cocktail hour and then a formal dinner for weddings, or from having different menus for adults and children.

“When working with a client, I always ask them what they’re envisioning with regards to the flow of the celebration,” says Ellen Vaknine, vice president of sales and marketing for New York City’s Espirit Events kosher caterer.

Vaknine says that for simchas planned for 2014, she saw more people “opt for the extended cocktail [hour] with passed hors d’oeuvres and stations,” without having a formal sit-down dinner. That way, she says, children, young adults and adults have the option of spending more time together, and kids don’t have to face the ubiquitous schnitzel and pigs-in-a-blanket offered at so many simchas.

Even for the parents who do choose to have “kid food,” Vaknine suggests updating the presentation with funky touches: Soup can be served in eggshell bowls, and kebob skewers can be made from bamboo.

Tiny sundaes photo/courtesy farmer’s daughter catering

Customizing menus to include today’s culinary trends is another way to modernize an event. Friedman specializes in catering using only organic and local ingredients, and typically provides farm-to-table food options. She notes the growing trend of using vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free foods as part of the menu.

Kosher food is “slowly getting on board with foods that are more environmentally friendly and healthier,” says Friedman. “I’ve had a bride who grew her own herbs and greens to incorporate into my catering menu. It took a year in advance [to plan], but everyone remembered that part.”

Friedman suggests looking into old family recipes that can be used as part of the menu, to create dishes that many guests haven’t seen before and that family can appreciate and enjoy.

With just a little bit of creativity, and by recognizing exactly what you want for your special day, it is quite possible to make your dream simcha a reality.