Haute Hors D’Oeuvres

Start the party off right with a stylish — and tasty! — cocktail hour


“The hors d’oeuvres hour is a prelude to the main meal. It should set the tone but not duplicate the flavors.” That’s Wendy Pashman’s take on wedding cocktail hours. Pashman, who runs catering firm Entertaining Company in Chicago, has provided delicious food for thousands of elegant weddings for more than 20 years.

To make the cocktail hour hors d’oeuvres unforgettable, Pashman suggests serving a wide selection of foods that incorporate tastes and smells from around the world. “It is the absolute best time to be adventurous,” she says. “A small cocktail Indian samosa, for example, is small enough for trying and testing without committing to a whole entrée-size portion.” Pashman also encourages serving small custom cocktails that will entice guests to try new foods without overwhelming their palates.

And as with any element at a wedding, the presentation of the bites is key. Pashman and her colleagues at Entertaining Company always match their serving pieces to each wedding’s overall style, such as mirrored trays for glamorous fetes and simple white ceramics for minimalist parties. Pashman even fashions roasted vegetables into serving vessels for more organic weddings. One thing she says they won’t do? Use hors d’oeuvres from the freezer. “A company has to be committed to taking the slow, more delicious route,” she says.