This reception dinner staple doesn't have to be basic. Here, New York-based event producer, designer, author, and Martha Stewart Weddings contributor David Stark dishes with a few favorite caterers on how to make it over so it delights on the big day.

Some of the hottest chefs across the country count chicken as one of their go-to ingredients. Their challenge, however? How to find new cooking techniques and flavor combinations to make it exciting again. Rising chef Adam Dorris serves chicken wings with an unexpected blend of anchovy, black currant, wildflower honey, and sunflower seeds at his Houston eatery, Pax Americana. Robert Holt, previously at Marzano in Oakland, California, braises his chicken all'Arrabbiata with five kinds of peppers in a wood-fired oven. And over in New Orleans, Emeril's serves up a chicken breast glazed with maple syrup, cherry vinegar, and orange juice infused with star anise and other spices. How do you take these restaurant ideas and apply them to a wedding menu?

Credit: Linda Pugliese

Interpret the Classics in a Playful Way

Stephen STARR Events, a Philadelphia-based company, loves to redefine the standards in a way that keeps the dishes comforting, but light enough to keep the party going. For example, using flavorful mushrooms and crisp asparagus helps liven up an individual chicken pot pie topped with a light, mouthwatering crust.


Incorporate Farm-Fresh Ingredients

New York-based catering company Sonnier & Castle combines its love of local, fresh ingredients with current culinary trends. The team works with an East Hampton farmer to source the ingredients for its Iacono Farm chicken roulade with chanterelle, fresh chickpeas, and stone-ground mustard.


Make Chicken a Succulent Supporting Player

Chicken doesn't have to be the main star of your main dish. New York's Union Square Events stuffs smoked chicken and house-made ricotta cheese into freshly prepared raviolis. Served in a chicken stock sauce with seasonal vegetables, the dish perfectly balances rich flavors with a fresh lightness, making it ideal for large events.

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Credit: Mikkel Vang

Choose Your Preparations Wisely

Don't fall into the rubber chicken trap! Choose a preparation that can be successfully executed in a catering kitchen, which often means limited equipment and space. Based in the New York area, Creative Edge strives to make every taste and texture deliciously unexpected. Its chicken trio includes beer-battered chicken, buttermilk fried chicken, and slow-roasted pulled chicken to provide a succulent entrée that stands the test of time.

Credit: Bryan Gardner

Don't Overlook Presentation

Finally, although taste always comes first, don't forget the importance of presentation. We encourage you to work with your caterer in advance to decide how to best arrange your chicken in the most appetizing and visually appealing way. After all, before your guests even take a bite, their meal begins with their eyes.

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