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Weddings Through the Eyes of a Chef – Peter Hennessey (Head Chef) Carrigaline Court Hotel


Wedding Food

‘Weddings Through the Eyes of a Chef’

Peter Hennessey – Head Chef, Carrigaline Court Hotel

  •  Tell us about how you got involved in chefing. I originally started off as a Kitchen Porter and helped the chefs to prepare the food. I was then offered the opportunity to train as a chef, and accepted it.
  • How do you decide on what to include on a wedding menu? The Seasons are very important, and I would try to advise wedding couples on that. Lamb for example is not recommended November/December. And also in December fresh Cod is a bit scarce. Vegetables would also be influenced by the seasons.
  • What advice do you have for couples when it comes to deciding on their wedding food? Go with what they like and as above all what is best in season.
  • How many weeks before a wedding should a meal tasting take place? Ideally 6-8 weeks is the best time as it then becomes part of the experience, rather than a box ticked.
  • What’s the fanciest wedding menu you’ve created? Although a lot of wedding menus are very similar, in that the couple select the “safest option” when catering for their large number of guests, it’s always fun for us when we are asked to create a specific menu to tie in with a wedding theme.  During the summer 2018, because of the Royal Wedding of Harry & Meghan, we had a wedding that replicated some of the dishes served.  Nice light summery dishes culminating in a Lemon & Elderflower Wedding Cake dessert – a request which we were delighted to accommodate.
  • What dietary requirement do you cater for? We cater for all dietary requirements. We once had a wedding that had a very large number of coeliac guests – they requested that their entire menu should be gluten free – we met with the couple and created a menu that was 100% gluten free from start to finish which did not compromise in taste in any way.
  • What are the most popular main courses? I would say Sirloin of Beef and Seabass for the main course. Vol au Vent is always a popular starter choice and most weddings now opt for a Dessert Plate which offers a taster of three mini desserts suiting all tastes.
  • What are the most popular desserts? Our most popular Dessert Trio would be Salted Caramel Tartlet served with Caramelized Pecan Nuts, Lemon & Lime Posset with Shortbread Biscuit and Raspberry & White Chocolate Cheese-Cake.
  • Have tastes changed over time? This I feel is influenced more by the economy than taste. In the boom it was all fillet steak and prime Fish and that changed when the recession came – money management was a driving factor. But what I will say there is more of an emphasis on quality and freshness over the years.
  • What’s the most unusual food request you’ve had for a wedding? Bacon & Cabbage for a Main Course and Chicken wings for the Starter.

Turning a small wedding into a Big Party


Small Wedding Gathering

Weddings in Cork

The one thing that I keep getting asked by our couples I show, is to create an atmosphere in the room now that large wedding guests lists are no longer permitted. I always tell them that just because you’ve cut down your numbers it doesn’t mean you need to have any less of a celebration and there are certainly ways to throw an amazing small wedding.

Not everyone wants the big white wedding and not every couple has the option to have one due to budget constraints therefore smaller weddings are growing in popularity as people choose to surround themselves with just their closest loved ones.  With a more intimate guests list you can focus on creating a personal and unforgettable experience.

What’s important to remember is that the size of your guest list does not mean anything else needs to be small – you can still go big on the Dress, Flowers, Cakes, Invites, Menu & Venue for sure.

What we are seeing here at Carrigaline Court Hotel is that our couples that have had to reduce their guest list have been spending more money on beautiful fresh floral arrangements, selecting finer wines, upgrading their menus from perhaps Sirloin of Beef to Fillet and offering a free bar for part of the evening.  With the introduction of some of these touches your day will be just as joyful, romantic and fun.

On your Wedding Day

On the day itself you can spend more individual time with your loved ones thus creating a relaxed and personal day which equal less stress for you.  Every single person that you invite to your smaller wedding is someone that is so close to you that you simply can’t imagine marrying without having them there – this makes it so special for the couple and guests alike.

You can ditch the full formal wedding party – that rule book is out the window.  You can if you wish have a Bridesmaid or Groomsman but its now perfectly acceptable if you don’t. We had a smaller wedding this summer where the Bride had her Grandmother as her Bridesmaid – a beautiful photo opportunity and a beautiful idea.

If you fall in love with a venue that’s meant for 200 don’t panic – there are plenty of ways to adapt the space to make it feel snug.  Your wedding co-ordinator can recommend companies that will drape the room for you to lower the ceiling or section the room creating the illusion of a smaller space.  Adding the warm glow of candlelight and lanterns is also much more romantic than bright lighting.

Also I suggest adding a focal point in the centre of the room that your eyes are drawn towards, such as a sweetheart top tables, a starlight dancefloor with your wedding cake on or a statement piece of décor like a tree.

Ditching the rule book once more means that you can easily dicate the timeline for your day. Who says that you have to get married at 2pm and dine at 6pm.  What about a 10am ceremony followed by a long leisurely brunch?  Or marry later in the day as the sun sets followed by a late evening meal.  There is so much more flexibility for a smaller wedding.

And finally as the cost of the wedding is likely to be less than originally planned therefore why not splash out on the most amazing honeymoon – it will give you something to look forward to during the wedding planning stage and something to look back on for many years that follow.

 If you wish to make contact our Wedding Coordinator Sinead Gillen, you can do so by emailing events@carrigcourt.com or by phoning 021 4852100