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Monday, November 19, 2012

Food for Thought

I recently had the pleasure of attending my dear friend Leah’s wedding. Leah is another Louisiana transplant living in DC. We met via our hubbies who were childhood best friends. I knew Leah & Adam’s wedding would be picture perfect. As an interior designer, Leah has impeccable taste. Anyone can tell you she is also a DIY Queen with a big heart – two things that were apparent in all aspects of the wedding.
Adam & Leah and their Oskar! 
Oh yeah...and she's gorgeous too.

There were so many beautiful, unique and personal elements to Leah's wedding, I can't fit everything into one post! So, in light of the Thanksgiving holiday being just around the corner, I thought I'd start off with a post on the charitable and DIY food elements from Adam & Leah's big day.

The appetizer spread. Photos Bonnie Sen. 
Saying that the food was phenomenal would be an understatement. In truth, the praline catfish was downright addictive. Having good food at a Louisiana wedding is not out of the ordinary, but what made Adam & Leah’s wedding buffet extraordinary was that it was prepared by students from the ProStart Culinary Program.

The ProStart Culinary Program is a nationwide, two year program that trains high school students for professional work in the food service industry. Essentially, the program aims to "bring the industry and the classroom together" to facilitate hands-on learning and training. Students in the program learn culinary techniques and management skills through real-world educational opportunities. ProStart is supported by the National Restaurant Association and state chapters. Currently, there are over 50 high school programs and more than 1,200 students enrolled across the country. For many students who are not pursuing the traditional college track, the ProStart Program gives them real world experience and transferable skills.

Leah's mother, Susan, had the brilliant idea to use the ProStart program to cater Leah and Adam's wedding. Susan is an art teacher at Woodlawn High School in Baton Rouge Louisiana and many of her talented art students are in the ProStart program. The students often brought Susan delicious things they cooked from across the hall. So, she got to thinking and asked Mr. Steve Oubre, the culinary teacher at Woodlawn, if the students would be up to the challenge of catering a real wedding. Prior to his teaching career, Mr. Oubre had a small catering business and he was sure his students would be up to the challenge. So, Leah, Adam and her mom talked about the option and thought it would be wonderful to make a donation to the school’s program. Not only did the student participants gain some real world industry experience, but Adam and Leah were able to create their very own custom menu along with the chef and the kids in the program.

Some of the Woodlawn High ProStart students having fun in the Red Eye photobooth. 
Another fantastic foodie element from Adam and Leah's wedding was their dessert table. Adam and Leah opted out of the huge expense of a traditional wedding cake and instead they ordered several little (and very delicious) cakes from a local bakery. The cakes they ordered were small, so they decided to add a few pies to the mix. To make things even more personal, they asked their friends and family to bake their favorites.
Leah was delighted with the variety and the fact that people got to share a little piece of themselves, saying"Everyone brought something unique and special that represented them. My Gigi made her apple pie, of course your chai spice pie - so unique and delicious (I made a pie with my sister, for the recipe click here), we had pumpkin, and pecan, and raspberry, and even a lemon tarte. My best friend Alice's father made his famous blackberry pie with blackberries from his own backyard vine. It felt very personal I think, having so many wonderful friends and family members contribute."

The pies were just the tip of the DIY iceberg at Leah & Adam's wedding. Stay tuned next week for DIY design & decor tips from my interview with Leah and more amazing pictures by her photographer, Bonnie Sen- including some cute pics of the oh-so-photogenic Oskar (below). Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. I'm not a New Orleans girl, but I'll have to remember her food choices! They sound perfect for a unique wedding hosted by 'foodies' and also a great way to give back. I know it must feel really special, too, to contribute to her wedding by baking some of the desserts! That's a great touch! It might just have to go in my 'wedding playbook.' :)

    Here's a post I think you'll like for holiday shopping:

  2. Thanks, Anna! I loved the blog article you posted. Also, since you are in Arkansas, I thought you'd be interested in ProStart's program there.