I'm a wedding caterer – the popular dish we always advise against if you want a sophisticated do | The Sun

FROM the flowers, to the dress and the music – your wedding day is often considered as one of the biggest relationship milestones.

And as a result, it's important to get it right – and choosing the right cuisine and catering company is essential.

Raef Hamze is Group Operations Director at Leila Catering, a bespoke Middle Eastern catering company with a team of highly experienced chefs who have catered weddings across the UK since 2010.

Here, Raef shares exactly what goes into catering a wedding, and explains why he advises against certain dish decisions in order to ensure a more sophisticated ambience…

'Nothing is impossible'

As with all reputable suppliers, Raef will always fulfil his clients wishes no matter how 'out there' the request – but there are always certain ideas he will advise against.

Raef explains: "Nothing is impossible. We always try to make whatever is requested happen, because if a customer is requesting it, then it obviously means something to them.


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"Our team is there to advise and execute, but the client is the one paying so we will do what they request, even if we’ve advised against it.”

The one dish to avoid

While no request is out of the question, Raef admits there are some decisions they try and advise against in order to ensure the event remains a classy affair.

He says: "Chicken wings are a dish that is always requested by grooms and their wedding party, but we wouldn’t recommend them for a wedding at all.

"They tend to get very messy and don’t fit the vibe if someone wants a more sophisticated wedding.

"We promise they’re not a great idea – unless you want sticky sauce all down your dress!"

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'We warn clients beforehand'

From delicious hot and cold mezzes, dips and breads to salads, grilled meats and flavourful tagines – when it comes to the menu Raef serves, there are a whole host of delicious middle-eastern dishes on the table.

Raef says: "In terms of Mezze, our most popular dishes are Hummus and Fattoush Salad, then for the main course, our Chicken Tagine and Oriental Mixed Grill are both crowd favourites."

However, there is one key ingredient that comes with a warning and has a reputation for ruining photos.

Raef says: "We serve a famous Lebanese dish called Tabbouleh, which is a parsley, tomato, onion, and lemon juice salad.

"Although this is enjoyed by everyone, most people tend to stay away from it during weddings because of the parsley sticking to guests’ teeth and ruining photos!

"We can’t tell you how many times photos have been taken at events with parsley all over everyone’s teeth.

"We will at least warn clients of this beforehand if they request it."

Drunk drama

The biggest wedding Raef's business has catered for is 600 guests, with the average price approximately £58 per head, although they have catered for weddings all the way up to £800 a head.

And while Raef has been working in the industry for years and has liaised with countless couples and their guests, even he is still shocked from time to time.

Raef says: "Although our staff are trained to deal with drunk guests at weddings, we always get surprises.

"Once we had someone fall off the stage because they were so drunk they thought the one metre high stage was a 10cm step!"

"This year, we provided catering for someone who got married for the second time to someone else, having catered for their first wedding five years ago.

"It’s a bit of a strange, funny aspect of our job when things like this happen, but we’re so grateful that the customer wants to come back to us, despite the negative connotations of their previous event!"

'Getting it right is crucial'

Of course, a lot of prep goes into ensuring a wedding goes 'without a hitch'.

Raef says: "At least three days, or sometimes even a week, goes into wedding prep.

"The planning aspect is often the most stressful part of wedding catering, along with making sure nothing is missed or forgotten.

"This is an extremely important event for someone, so getting it right is absolutely crucial."

Making memories

However for Raef and his team, the hard work is all worth it, and really pays off when they make a couple's special day perfect.

Raef adds: "We love getting to be a part of the whole wedding experience and providing those finishing touches to make a lasting impression on the bride and groom’s special day.

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"We always reassure the couple that they are in professional, safe hands, and let them know that the most important thing is that they enjoy their special day.

"This is one of the most important, memorable days of a person’s life, so to be able to make an impact on it feels incredible and really reminds us why we love doing what we do."

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