We had the opportunity to catch Steven James, the Catering and Sales Manager of the Hyatt Regency Newport Hotel and Spa for a chat about the best way to serve your guests at your wedding. James, who has been with the Hyatt for five years and worked in high-style party cities such as New York, Miami, and New Orleans, says, “I always loved over-the-top festivities, so naturally, working in weddings was a perfect match when pursuing a career in being a party guy. I really love music, food, and art too, so it all goes together.”
CB: How many guests is your ideal number to serve at a wedding?
SJ: I think 150-200 is a nice sized party. Anything in the 300 to 400 person range is less personal, and I don’t think the Bride and Groom get to spend any time with their guests.
CB: What is your favorite food trend that you are seeing at the moment?
SJ: I would say not having the ‘traditional’ big sit down dinner. Having food available throughout the wedding with surprises like small plate stations, heavier hors d’oeuvres and cascading food displays at Cocktail Hour and then a lighter dinner followed with a fun and savory late night snack with some sweets too. Also, Gluten-Free menu options. We are working to be proactive and have many readily available options on our wedding menus for Gluten Allergies.
CB: Have any predictions for the next big culinary trend?
SJ: I see that Brides and Grooms like to add something on the menu that is special to the heritage of their family or a fun memory from the times that they were dating. We continue to see demand for small plates and creative presentations.
CB: What do you want a couple to get out of a tasting at the Hyatt?
SJ: Here at The Hyatt Regency Newport, I schedule an individualized tasting with the Bride and Groom and 2 other guests. We are not your ‘cookie-cutter’ type hotel food, we take great pride in that. The individualized tasting is also our time together to detail the wedding. I see all smiling faces leaving the tasting because they are so happy they chose the right venue/caterer!
CB: How many weddings do you do per year?
SJ: About 65-70
CB: Do you have anything you recommend brides think about before they come to see you for the first time?
SJ: When you set up tours, remember that it is one of the hardest parts of the planning. Some brides schedule 4 or 5 venues in one day, that is bridal information overload for you and your groom! I would say, have an open mind, be creative, and ALWAYS go with your gut instinct. Be happy where you book rain or shine, New England has strange weather. When touring the location, think about your guests overall experience, for example, are there things to do before and after the wedding at the location, or do you just show up for 5 hours? You will know when it is the right fit for your big day.
CB: What are some of the key ingredients to a successful wedding from a catering point of view?
SJ: Always have food available or on its way, especially when people are indulging throughout the day with passed cocktails, open bar, etc. Have a clear vision of what you want the party to feel like. Your guests start eating with their eyes, your plates should have 5 colors on them. Have a good mix of options like unique twists on comfort foods, traditional offerings, savory, sweet and always very fresh.
Thanks, Steven! Cheers!