Rancho Chiquita Wedding Blog – A Wedding in Malibu
Mesha and Jordan’s Wedding
A Humble Southern BBQ, August 22nd
A dear friend from the hey day of my first restaurant, Gilliland’s, who wishes to remain anonymous, suggested that Mesha and Jordan call me and visit Rancho Chiquita for a potential venue and caterer for their wedding. As soon as they walked in the gates it was love at first sight. They didn’t want to leave. As we sat and chatted about their vision for their wedding day, it was clear this couple were unique in every aspect of the wedding, but particularly the menu. They wanted a humble Southern BBQ with Fried Chicken and BBQ Ribs…. It was so exciting to do something different than regular “wedding” food. Although I must make a disclaimer here that none of the food I serve at Rancho Chiquita is your typical boring rubber chicken hotel dinner.
Then the fun started. We arranged for a tasting of the menu at Finn McCool’s Irish Pub in Santa Monica, which I just happen to own. I did have a confession to make to the groom and that is I grew up in Ireland and never made Macaroni and Cheese before. I begged the groom to share with me his family recipe. Jordan was insistent that I not add anything fancy like Truffle oil, or God forbid! Goat Cheese to the Mac and Cheese. Jordan was clear right down to the size of the macaroni… (I didn’t know there was more than one size of macaroni, did you?)
So the final menu was selected on that rainy February day at Finns and the planning began.
We could not have had a better day. The weather was beautiful, the view was magnificent. We could see all the way down to Palos Verdes and Catalina Island. It was a lovely warm, but not too hot day. The guests arrived, mostly by shuttle bus. They stepped onto the Spanish Courtyard and were lovingly escorted to the pool terrace for a glass of our delicious signature Hibiscus Cooler, while they listened to a special Music CD Jordan made for the guest’s arrival. It was so lovely to hear the all oohs and ahhs from people as they savored the view and discovered the lawn set for dinner.
Eric Powell, our wonderful friend and brilliant photographer arrived and photographed Mesha and Jordan before the ceremony. This is not unusual these days as many of the couples do not want to miss the yummy delicious cocktail hour with family and friends. Mesha was absolutely stunning in an off white Claire Pettibone Dress. A Truly beautiful bride. The groom and groomsmen all wore off white suits. The ceremony was held under the Pergola where local florist and artist, Marion Curson, had hung many strands of roses so they looked like they were floating in the cool Ocean breeze. Purple and blue parasols completed the look and gave some shade to the guests. Vows were exchanged. (Why do I always cry at weddings I ask myself?)
Groom and Groomsmen
We hear clapping; a newly married couple is cheered as they walk up to the lawn. All systems are a go and the staff gets ready to receive the guests. The Bar opens. Servers walk around and tray pass glasses of Red and White wine. The groom hates long lines at bars so we made sure we had plenty of staff for the occasion.
The appetizers, Smoked Potato and Corn Hush Puppies, and Red Yam Tortellini with Crispy Sage Garlic, were served on the lawn and covered terrace of the newly built Spanish Guest home. A croquet field was set up just for fun. Vases full of lavender Dahlias were set on tables. Mesha and Jordan had a crossword puzzle on each place setting of their life together so far. They are really a very clever, unique and artistic couple.
Dinner was served family style: platters of Sweet Potato Gratin, the now famous Mac and Cheese, Collard Greens, Poppy Seed Coleslaw, and platters of Buttermilk Fried Chicken and BBQ Ribs. There were 12 Vegans at the wedding so we served them our beautiful Portobello Mushroom Napoleon with Polenta, Spinach and Ratatouille on a bed of fresh Heirloom Tomato Sauce. We have many vegetarian and vegans at weddings these days and we always try to make their entrée very interesting. I was so worried about the chicken not being crispy because we were cooking for 130 guests on a portable 6 burner stove …in a makeshift outdoor kitchen. But the chicken was perfect (legs and breast were served). You do know that when we do a wedding at a private Estate… that we have to set up a kitchen basically in a field!!!! Not as easy as cooking in a restaurant kitchen.
The guests loved being served family style and they loved not having to wait in long buffet lines… I walked around the tables and chatted with so many happy people.
More fun when the bride did an interpretive sexy dance with 3 hula hoops to entertain her new husband. Mesha did not miss a beat and never dropped one Hula Hoop. What a gal! Then Mesha did a cabernet version of “Fever” with 4 of her girlfriends as her backing group. It was absolutely fascinating. The crowd was stunned they loved it and it was so much fun. A little latter another surprise…Some friends’ donned monster masks and did a dance to “Monster Mash”. It was so funny.
The cupcake wedding tree was a combination of homemade (by me) Red Velvet Cupcakes, Vanilla Bean with Lemon Frosting and Devils Food Cupcakes with Mocha Frosting. I always suggest baking extra cupcakes as guests always want to try more than one flavor. After the bride and groom cut the cake, we take the cupcakes back into the kitchen and remove the paper and serve them with a delicious Crème Anglaise. We must always fight people off as they try to grab cupcakes from the tree. (I must admit I gave my friend one as he wouldn’t take NO for an answer).
Dancing under the Carnival Lights crisscrossed over the lawn, toasting and great fun, along with a sliver of a moon and later the dragon’s breath engulfing the main land below and whisping far below my mountaintop Estate. The City lights we call the Queen’s necklace illuminated the sky along the coastline.
As the evening wound down and the guests left the Estate through a row of Tikki Torches – kind of felt like that reality show when they leave the Island.
Off to a local hotel where the bride and her girlfriends, The Aqualillies performed their Esther Williams routine in gold lame bathing suits in the hotel pool. I wish I could have gone to that after party but we still had to clean up. The Staff leaves at 11pm, lights off and then we sneak into the kitchen and eat some of the delicious left over Macaroni and Cheese. I have never before eaten Macaroni and Cheese and it is delicious. Good going Mesha and Jordan.