A Fine Mesh: When Kosher Meets Steampunk
A Kosher Wedding Menu Meets Steampunk Design
In the world of unique wedding themes, this one is exceptional. With no one word to describe it, think: gourmet-kosher-steampunk-meets-burlesque-camp. You read all that right. Magicians performed at this hip take on a modern-day carnival atmosphere, but there was another type of magician in the side tent – the catering firm 5 Star Kosher Catering, the upscale kosher division of Someone’s in the Kitchen based in Tarzana, California.
Although the event venue was in Santa Rosa, about an hour north of San Francisco, the wedding couple, who lived in San Francisco, was having a hard time finding suitable kosher catering in that area. “We got the call from Heidi Ladell, a fabulous planner and uber foodie in Florida, where the bride’s family lives. She had been brought in by the couple as their culinary consultant,” says Joann Roth-Oseary, owner of Someone’s in the Kitchen and 5 Star. “The couple and their family have been clients of Heidi’s for many years.”
The theme was too intriguing, and the designer Sean DeFreitas of Designs by Sean, Fort Lauderdale, FL, too talented to pass it up. After a tasting, Roth-Oseary found herself and 35 staff members, with the mashgiach (a kosher supervisor) in tow, heading for the airport. Drivers followed with two refrigerated trucks on the road and headed to Camp Newman, the event site. The site was chosen by the bride for sentimental reasons but it also had a wide open space for a tented event. On site, the catering staff would grow by 30 more local kitchen and waitstaff.
The site was fitting, as the event would be both camp, and campy. The tent installed by Zephyr Tents from Berkeley, was awash in red, amber and gold provided by Impulse Event Lighting of Fullerton, CA. Gobos of flourishes “etched” the ceiling while stringer lights were hung from pole to pole and also outlined the pipe and drape at food stations to add the perfect touch of carnival. In the center of the event, it was hard to miss a larger-than-life sculpture by De Freitas that called to mind a burlesque bustier.
Flanked by hanging metal pendants – found objects that added another layer to the ceiling treatment and unique feeling of the event – the sculpture gave the event a focal point. On the food stations, Roth-Oseary’s team stepped in with vintage props and elements that supported the overall design.
The spirit of one of the most famous of all burlesque women, Mae West, was brought into the event through a film that played behind the band, and by food presentation platters featuring images from her films.
The layers of visual excitement continued to the guests themselves who were encouraged to dress up and have their photos taken at the Photo Dandy booth. Supplied by Kelly Murphy of Panache, the booth was stocked with everything a vintage steampunk-burlesque-loving wedding guest could want, from top hats to corsets. Throughout the evening a strolling ventriloquist and magicians were joined by a 1920’s Western Union delivery man played by an actor who was perfectly dressed the part. He delivered wedding telegrams throughout the night, singing a full selection of vintage melodies, adding to the overall ambiance.
With all that was going on, would it surprise you that the food stole the show? The guests came expecting what one usually expects when a meal is kosher – something safe. They were happy to be proven wrong.
Following kosher law, explains Roth-Oseary, there could be no open flame, or cooking for that matter, between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday. That meant a menu that would begin with a lot of sushi and other food items that would retain their quality as a re-heat or be perfect as room temperature menu items.
As the sun set on Saturday night, open flames could be lit and ovens could begin heating the menu and appetizers, many of which were not only kosher, but gluten-free.
The appetizer menu included Pulled Brisket Sliders, served on vintage frames containing images from Mae West films, Tuna Tartar, Mini Hot Dogs in Puff Pastry, (the groom’s favorite), and Turkey Meatballs with Arrabiata sauce.
In addition to a sushi station, there was a Fried Chicken and Waffle Station, a Mediterranean station with Mini Bastilla Pies, and Chicken Pecan and Bulgur Cakes with Cilantro Tahini, and a Mexican station featuring many items, including a sliced “tenderloin.” Not typically found on kosher menus because of the cut’s location close to the Siatic nerve, but Roth-Oseary explained it’s possible to replicate the cut by using the center of the prime rib roast.
The star of this clever gourmet menu was served at La Caja Pit – a slow-roasted lamb. Even though open flames are not allowed after sundown on Friday, if the coals for the Caja Chine (slow cooker) are lit then, they can continue to burn, and that’s what they did. The lamb cooked from Friday before sundown to Saturday after sundown at 8:43. This was served, falling off the bone, onto soft buns, with fresh mint and onions, house made slaw, jalapeno minted fruit chutney and cranberry horseradish relish.
Dessert featured Apple Fries served in small galvanized buckets with non-dairy caramel sauce and non-dairy whipped cream. A Pie Bar and Parfaits rounded out the dessert selection.
This was one pre-wedding event where the guests weren’t the only generations intermingling. At this campy gala, Roth-Oseary and team made the ancient laws of kosher cuisine look, and taste, positively modern next to such retro styles as burlesque and steampunk.
eNews July 2014