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Serving Caviar at the Wedding Reception- A special Treat.

"Wit ought to be a glorious treat like caviar, never spread it about like marmalade." Noel Coward

Caviar on the menu sends a palpable message to wedding guests: “This is going to be an exceptional event.” As a specialty food, it adds flair to any dish, stimulating and exciting the palate. “There’s something about the sheer simplicity of caviar that just conveys elegance,” says James Benson, executive chef of catering and banquets for the Wynn Las Vegas.

Although it is still presented as a separate course on ice with classic accoutrements such as blinis, crème fraîche, capers and chives, today’s caviar is more often employed as an ingredient to enhance a full range of other dishes.

“This is not your grandparents’ caviar,” says David Morris, garde-manger of the ARIA Resort and Casino Las Vegas, pointing out that educated consumers familiar with global cuisine expect creativity from a cutting-edge chef. Morris knows the importance of presentation, noting that “eye appeal is essential,” while he adds a generous dollop of caviar to dishes like his lobster and mango salad stuffed in a baby iceberg boat sporting a red tomato skin sail.

Jason Weaver, executive chef at the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, is a huge fan of the glistening black, red and gold pearls. “Personally, I love caviar and any time I can work it into a menu, I’m happy,” he says. In his opinion, there is no end to the things you can do with it. Weaver reveals the nuanced, delicate flavors—from buttery and smooth to nutty and briny—in hors d’oeuvres, salad dressings, sauces
and entrées like his savory financier with brown butter, chives and crème fraîche, topped with caviar and mounted on a pick for what he calls “easy-eating.” According to Weaver, many people don’t realize the versatility of caviar. His creations, however, show that imagination is the only limit to caviar cuisine.

“The flavor of caviar speaks for itself. It’s a perfect finishing touch for canapés and hot dishes,” says executive chef Michael Goodman of the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, who looks for complements that bring out caviar’s distinctive characteristics. His lobster knuckle pot pie has a garnish of caviar just below the puffed pastry. “The rich sweetness of the lobster and the salty smoothness of the caviar really work well together,” says Goodman.

The Wynn’s Benson carefully considers texture when creating caviar dishes. “You want to feel the mild crisp snap of the eggs as they burst in your mouth,” he says. His combinations often pair caviar with smooth panna cottas or custards to enhance that delicate sensation. Most importantly, according to Benson, “You have to respect the fact that caviar is a great product on its own, and make sure that it stands out in whatever dish you present.”

Written by Francine Kaplan
Photography by Ron Manville

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