The art of catering weddings
DIRECT LINE - Boy Abunda (The Philippine Star) - March 9, 2013 - 12:00am

Every memorable occasion in our lives is marked by food. But for businessman Philip Encarnacion, food was more than just something he ate to survive; it was his passion. He loved eating out and whenever he did, he would find himself automatically critiquing the items on the menu and also the ambiance of the place.

“I am actually a human resource practitioner and a former airline executive, but when I decided to venture into business, the closest to my heart was food. It has always been,” says Philip, who also studied labor law and organizational development before going to politics as chief of staff of a mayor and congressman.

Philip owns a company called RichGold Weddings, a high-end catering company that provides food packages for weddings, debuts, birthdays and corporate events. He has been in the food business for nearly 10 years, running food-court outlets, full-service restaurants and franchising kiosks until he decided to set up his own company. The only reason he put “weddings” in the company’s name was because catering weddings is often the benchmark for people in the same line of work. “In this business, if you can do weddings, you can do all types of events. Weddings are so laden with tradition that you have to be sensitive with what the client wants,” says Philip.

RichGold Weddings — which will be a major sponsor at this year’s Wedding Expo 2013 (to be held at the SMX venue of the Mall of Asia today and tomorrow,  March 10) — offers its clients pre-planned themes and menu packages, but they are also open to customizing their offerings to meet their clients’ needs and wants. For instance, they recently launched packages collectively called “Travels in Four Seasons” meant to appeal to those planning their weddings. These basic themed styling packages draw inspiration from the four seasons — winter, spring, summer and autumn. “Begin by identifying your wedding date. The date says it all. For example, if you’re getting married in April, which is a summer month, then a summer wedding theme is appropriate. If you want to get married during the cold Christmas season, then a winter wedding theme is for you.”

You could also make your choices according to your wedding venue. “If you decide to hold your wedding at a beach resort, you can easily go for a summer wedding theme. If you want to get married at a farm or a ranch, then you can go for a spring wedding theme. If you want to go for a traditional church wedding, then you can add flavor by dressing up the venue with an autumn setting.”

How do these choices influence the selection of the menu? It’s simple, says Philip, who has catered events for celebrities and politicians, and even society folks. The food must match the chosen theme. “Choosing a theme is just the beginning,” says RichGold Weddings executive chef Bryan Regis. “You have a lot of things to prepare. But the good thing is, once your theme is set, you already have a blueprint which makes it easier. What follows is the food to serve which should very well match with the theme, then for weddings, there are the other things like the color motif, the music and the ambience you want to create.”

Another innovation the company has created is its RichGold 777 healthy menu, which is part of its effort to accommodate its clients’ special requests. When they cater an event with an all-healthy menu, they provide a salad bar that includes leafy greens, and tomatoes with nuts in balsamic vinaigrette. The menu also picks lean cuts of meat for its beef stew, baked fish and skinless chicken breast. These options are lower in saturated fat and calories than other selections, but still contain plenty of protein, making them a healthy choice. All meals are accompanied by a light treatment of pesto sauce in penne pasta and steamed brown rice with steamed vegetables on the side and limited carbohydrates to balance the meal. Dessert usually consists of fresh fruit and dark chocolate.

Philip takes pride in the fact that the company does not complicate its packages and costing is very straightforward. “We want to create a niche in this industry, maintain the quality of our food and elegance of the event ambiance. And we’re always willing to adjust to our clients’ needs,” he says.

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