With trends in wedding catering constantly evolving Alex Jenkins meets a company that is keeping its finger firmly on the pulse.
Aside from the venue hire, the catering will be one of the biggest expenses of your wedding.
Not only does this usually run into thousands of pounds, but the quality of food can really make or break your big day.
For weddings and events one of the biggest challenges is producing fabulous food at a consistently high standard for a large number of people at the same time.
Get it wrong and your guests will remember your wedding as ‘the one with the bad food’; get it right and everyone will enjoy the occasion.
So the pressure really is on for caterers to pull out all the stops – something Circa Events has proved it can do time and time again.
The Brighton-based catering company specialises in creative and innovative food, giving favourite dishes a new look and incorporating ingredients you may not expect.
So coleslaw is given the Circa treatment and made with beetroot and elderflower; an everyday leaf salad is transformed by using organic nama yassi leaf instead; and the British classics menu has all the favourites but with that extra je ne sais quoi.
The likes of Pinterest has seen couples come laden with unique and quirky ideas.
“The whole street food thing is becoming more and more in demand,” reveals Circa owner and chef Marc Bolger, listing other food requests including fajitas, Greek cuisine, curry, and Moroccan tagine.
“It is all about what you like to eat, what you are comfortable with,” the Devon-born chef says. “People are keen to make it different and there is so much out there.”
With this in mind, aside from the traditional three-course wedding breakfasts and the popular barbecue and hog roasts menus, the company has launched mini off shoot options to cater for the varied demands.
One such off-shoot is the newly formed Circa Mobile Pizza Company.
“People were outsourcing things from other caterers,” Marc explains, when I ask him about the pizza trailer. “Sometimes weddings can be a bit complicated with lots of suppliers involved.
“But at the end of the day it is about two people getting married and we can provide the whole thing to make it a stress-free day.”
This ‘stress-free’ ethos includes how the wedding ‘packages’ are set up, with no hidden fees and no extra costs for items such as cutlery, staff, and table cloths.
In contrast to this ethos was creating the actual pizza trailer – something Marc admits was certainly not an easy project.
“I bought a pizza oven about four years ago and planned to do something with it,” Marc smiles. “But it has taken me until now as it is so big – it weighs three quarters of a tonne.”
While other mobile pizza companies install their ovens on the side of a trailer or horsebox Marc wanted it at the back facing towards the entrance, creating another challenge.
Eventually he found a cattle trailer big enough to accommodate the oven and, with the help of a welder on the farm where Circa is based, they managed to complete the project.
Another side business linked to Circa and popular with newlyweds is Circa Gelato, with ice cream made by Boho Gelato in Pool Valley, Brighton,
Using fresh Sussex milk and cream, there are more than 450 flavours to choose from, including strawberry cream tea, peanut butter and jelly, lavender and honey, and Thai green tea.
It also has a range of boozy flavours, such as gin and tonic, and raspberry bellini.
“Every wedding couple can choose six different types of gelato,” Marc explains. “Some people even chose them instead of canapes or instead of a dessert option.”
Circa Events has made such a name for itself it has been named the exclusive caterer for East Sussex venues Laughton Barns and Northease Manor, as well as featuring on the recommended list for venues such as Broyle Place in Ringmer, Long Furlong Barn in Clapham, and Angel House in Hove.
Aside from event catering, Circa is now also in charge of providing all the catering at Lewes Football Club through the Brighton Burger Company – also available for weddings – and runs the kitchen at The Round Georges in Kemptown.
“It is football food, but good,” Marc says when talking about his burger company, going on to explain how he uses free range beef and sweet potato chips. People come for the food and the football rather than just the football,” which is clearly saying something.
Circa Events prides itself on making even ordinary food extraordinary which makes them a winning team.
2000 – Circa started in Lewes as a restaurant, with a second fish restaurant opened two years later.
“We were doing quite unusual fusion Asian food and were featured in The Sunday Times and The Observer as well as all the food guides,” says Marc. “It was quite a big thing at the time.”
2004 – Pelham House in Lewes was bought by four families and turned into a hotel and conference centre. Circa was asked to be the venue caterers so sold its two restaurants.
2008 – Circa parted company with Pelham House and Marc parted company with his business partner, with Marc going on to create Circa Events based in Bevendean Farm, Woodingdean.
Now Circa Events has four full time chefs as well as other staff who help run the events and business.
Top three food choices
1. Barbecue – relaxed, informal food with a twist. Platters of food are brought to the table and come with four big bowls of different salads.
2. Pizza oven – great fun option for the evening. Guests have a choice of three pizzas chosen by the couple and each individual pizza is served in a box.
3. Afternoon tea and high tea – think salmon, ham, new potatoes, scones with lashings of cream, and a glorious cake table.
Set to be the next big thing
Food stations – this is an American idea that is proving popular in the UK now.
You can have various types of food dotted around each ‘station’ and people just help themselves, meaning there is plenty of opportunity to dance and socialise in between courses.
Mark with the gelato cart. Picture: Joe Doyle www.jofoto.co.uk others by Sara Reeve Photography
September 28, 2015 Food and Drink