While seated multi-course reception dinners have picked up in popularity in Charleston over the past two decades, ask any longtime local and they’ll tell you that local custom leans more toward homespun fare (think Grandmother’s recipes) served on buffets or as hors d’oeuvres.
Charleston natives, brothers, and James Beard Award-winning cookbook authors Matt Lee and Ted Lee recall a story of one South of Broad reception from the 1960s: “It was a huge society affair,” says Matt, “and there was a table with a turkey at one end, a ham at the other, and paper napkins for plates in between.”
In addition to informal help-yourself carving stations, the Lee Bros.—who have partnered with Chef Matt Greene of Duvall Catering + Event Design to bring their recipes to Lowcountry weddings—cite simple yet elegant offerings like pickled shrimp, boeuf á la mode (AKA pot roast), chicken salad tea sandwiches, and cheese straws as classic Charleston wedding elements. Jon Riordan of Hamby Catering & Events—the West Ashley outfit that’s fed Lowcountry wedding goers since 1979—adds shrimp and grits, crab cakes, and dips like Mrs. Hamby’s Meeting Street Crab Dip to the list. And Steve Wenger, Duvall’s CEO includes on she-crab soup and, for dessert, cobblers and Huguenot torte (an apple and nut pastry), too.
Luckily for today’s Lowcountry brides, caterers are bringing such throwback recipes (most of which have origins from the 1950 Junior League cookbook Charleston Receipts), to modern receptions of all sorts, including sit-down, station, small plate, or family-style service. Paper napkins as plates, though, have been left behind, and chefs now get crafty with presentation, using Mason jars for pickled treats, small ramekins for gooey desserts like the Huguenot torte, and silver or wooden platters for cuts of meat and fresh seafood.
For brides craving old-school recipes with an updated spin, Hamby offers shrimp and grits sushi, while Duvall serves up Southern eggrolls stuffed with collards and pulled pork. Similarly, King Street’s Charleston Grill restaurant’s catering division now offers a gourmet biscuit bar, which features old-South-meets-new combinations like Parmesan biscuits topped with hot smoked salmon, kimchi butter, and shrimp gravy. Right-now spins on homespun Charleston cuisine? Let’s dig in!
Serve up traditional Charleston cuisine with a modern twist at your reception with these classic-style Lowcountry caterers