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melissaauerbach | Great Performances


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by Melissa Auerbach

Even though I worked in catering for so many weddings over the years, I actually never had a grand vision of what I wanted for my own wedding meal. I was always too consumed with how to translate my client’s dreams into a beautiful and memorable evening.

I went on my very first date with my now husband the day after producing a wedding. I was exhausted and elated at the end of the night, and I knew the next day would be very special. Seasons passed and many sunsets were enjoyed in the gardens of Wave Hill as a couple. Deciding to have our wedding at Wave Hill seemed like the most natural and romantic decision. It also meant that I would get to collaborate with our friends at Great Performances on the most grand dinner party we would ever host. It was organic; it was fun; and, most of all, it felt like we were part of something really special.

I could go on and on about what it was like for us to plan our wedding and our menu – why we chose to serve radishes dipped in butter (because they are delicious) or how we selected chocolate as our wedding cake flavor (again, because it was delicious). Surely you have read those stories before. And while they are stories absolutely worth telling, I think some behind the scenes stories and insights about working with the GP family would be far more interesting. This is also a tribute and a thank you…to the team that made the most remarkable meal of our lives. 

Menu planning:

There is no one in the GP kitchen more passionate than Chef Matthew Riznyk. He is one of my favorite dining partners; always unafraid to try the unknown. In addition to having the luxury of working with him on many events, he and his family are dear friends of ours. It is he who introduced my husband to salt baked cod and bottarga during a memorable Christmas Eve.

We planned our wedding menu over sushi at Neta. We let the chefs choose what we ate (our favorite way to eat) and when we wanted more, we pointed to someone’s plate that looked in the know and asked for double the portion. It was at this meal that I realized George and I had no clue what we wanted to serve. An hour and another bottle of sake later, we had a sample menu scribbled onto an envelope I found in my purse. Our wedding menu was born.

Our tasting:

As a couple, one of our goals in life is to always have an “off the beaten path” experience. One that you would only see on the travel channel or read about on a friend of a friend’s travel blog. Our tasting was an experience straight out of a No Reservations episode. Not wanting to miss an opportunity for a real time menu discussion with the chefs, we had our tasting in the kitchen. It was in that kitchen that Chef Matthew blew our mind with surprise after surprise. The menu we had once planned on was elevated and more delicious than we could have dreamed of. Peaches were added to our burrata salad. Filet turned to ribeye. We left that night, smelling of garlic and beef and giggly from the tasting and nine bottles of wine, feeling like very lucky people.

The man with many hats: Shaun Roberts, our catering director, therapist, friend and officiant.

Shaun Roberts is loved by many. He is poised, charming, kind and the person everyone wants to be friends with. He also knows how to tap dance. He has been our dear friend for years; there from the very beginning. It is with Shaun that I dissected my first dates with George. It is with Shaun that I picked out cologne for George for our first holiday together. When it came time to think about how we would want to be married, our only thought was to ask Shaun to stand in front of our loved ones and share beautiful words about our relationship. In addition to this extremely important task, Shaun had the pleasure of dealing with me on every last catering detail. Our conversations went something like this… “Fish. No, chicken. Okay, fish again. Bass. No, salmon! Passed desserts. A buffet. A shortcake buffet! Strike the passed desserts. Add whipped cream. And mint!!” Your medal is on the way, Mr. Roberts. 

GP represents family and the life that unfolds around a table. Sharing stories. Laughing. Making memories. Learning. Growing. They gave us all of that on a beautifully styled platter, as only they would. Our hearts are eternally filled with gratitude. 

©Charlotte Jenks Lewis

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