Expert Advice: Couture Style Canapes

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We spoke to four of Melbourne’s top chefs to uncover their insights on selecting and creating the perfect wedding canapés




The canapés at any function can serve a variety of purposes. Not only do they give the guests a fi rst glimpse of what sort of an amazing spectacle they will enjoy over the course of the day or evening but, as Jacques Reymond says, they assist in keeping the guests “distracted yet entertained” while other formalities, such as the bridal party taking photos, are taking place.

Shannon Bennett of Vue De Monde says that guests often are famished and in need of a pep-up after the formal part of the day. “Very often people haven’t eaten for quite a few hours and with their first drink in hand it is really important to give them something to eat”. Bennett also believes that “the canapés welcome people to the event — they set the scene”.

Pleasing Everyone

When selecting canapés for your wedding it’s important to know your crowd and, as Jacques puts it, “please everyone”. While catering for a large range of tastes seems like a daunting task, canapés allow freedom, as people can decline something they aren’t fond of or that doesn’t fit with their dietary requirements.

“It’s best to cater for a large number of palates by providing a variety of different options,” Justin Wise advises. “From seafood to meat and a mix of vegetarian, incorporating a cross-section of fl avours will ensure your guests will enjoy what’s on offer.”

It’s important to communicate with your chef or caterer and inform them of the cultural background and the palates of your guests. “Some couples really want to show their guests something different,” Shannon explains, “while others will want to play it safe.”


Size Matters

All four chefs agree that small, bite-size portions are the most suitable for weddings. “[The canapés] have to be easy to eat and comfortable for the guests so they don’t hold back on trying them,” explains Shannon.

Guests will be conscious of overeating and becoming too full if a main meal follows a selection of canapés; however, they will want to try all that’s on offer. “Mini quiches, gougères, oysters, tuna tartar and salmon are always popular,” Jacques says. Justin likes to plate up black olive, heirloom tomato and feta cornettos that he says are a little different but encompass flavours the guests are sure to really enjoy.

A Cocktail Wedding

A cocktail-style wedding is a great alternative for a couple who want to keep the day more casual or host more guests in a smaller space. “It also allows fl uid movement for guests and makes it easier for the bride and groom to mingle,” adds Shannon. 

However, when choosing this alternative, the quantity or size of canapés must be increased so guests eventually receive as much food as they would if they were eating a sit-down dinner. “You must ensure you have several substantial canapés so guests end up eating the equivalent of a full meal,” says Shannon. “Also include some kind of offering such as a cheese table where people who would like more food can help themselves.”

“It’s a great idea to ensure that larger grazing-style items are served to add substance to the menu,” Justin says. Additionally, ensure that with every subsequent drink there’s always something available to nibble on. He says that this style of wedding is ideal for couples looking for an informal or non-traditional style of wedding.

Justin Wise, head chef at The Point, Albert Park
The Point, Albert Park, has received two Chef’s Hats in the past two years running. Head chef Justin Wise shares with us one of his favourite wedding canapés recipes

Ike Jime Spiked Snapper, Finger Lime and Nuoc Nam Dressing
Makes 20 portions


  • 1 knob of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 coriander roots, washed
  • 2 long red chillies, sliced length ways, seeded and chopped
  • Salt
  • 50g palm sugar, grated
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 40mL fish sauce
  • 30mL rice vinegar
  • 500g piece of snapper, boned and skinned (ask your fish monger to do so on purchase)
  • Canola oil
  • 2 finger limes, cut in half and keep the seed-like fruit
  • 1 green apple, cut into batons
  • 1 head of frisee lettuce, hearts picked
  • 4 sprigs of chervil, picked
  • Pansy flowers

For the dressing, take the ginger, coriander roots, chillies, salt, palm sugar and garlic and place in a mortar and pestle. Beat and grind the ingredients until you have a paste. Once achieved, loosen with the lime juice, fish sauce, and rice vinegar. Taste it, you should be able to taste a good balance of spicy, sweet, sour and salty flavours.


  1. Heat a dry, non-stick pan on a very high heat. Rub the snapper with oil and season with salt.
  2. Sear all sides of the snapper to a golden colour (because the pan is so hot this should not take longer than five to 10 seconds per side).
  3. Chill the snapper immediately. To fi nish, slice the snapper width-wise thinly and place two slices per serving. Drizzle some of the dressing over the fish. Repeat with the finger lime seeds. Garnish with the apple, picked herbs and flowers.

George Calombaris, head chef of The Press Club
We asked George Calombaris to share his favourite wedding canapé recipe with us. “I love the flavour of salt and vinegar,” he says. “It’s a childhood favourite for me and I’m sure for many people. A great canapé is about a flavour bomb. It must be a big bang in the mouth and excite the senses.”

Salt-and-vinegar potato glass
Makes 10 portions


  • 4 white onions
  • 50g butter
  • 200ml cream
  • 4 gelatine leaves, soaked
  • 100g goat’s curd
  • 300mL cream whipped, soft
  • 4 large sebago potatoes
  • 100g clarified butter
  • 1kg local mussels
  • Mix of edible herbs and fl owers
  • 5g vinegar powder


  1. Thinly slice the white onions and sweat in butter until soft. Cover with 200mL cream and reduce by half, strain and reserve the excess cream. Place into a food processer and blend until it has become a smooth purée. Add a little of the cream back to jug. Measure 200g and reserve, discard remaining purée.
  2. While onion purée is still warm, add gelatine leaves and goat’s curd and then blend again.
  3. Place in a bowl set over an ice bath. Move off base of bowl until it is beginning to set.
  4. Gently fold through the whipped cream.
  5. Peel the potatoes and slice as thin a possible (if you have a mandolin, use this).
  6. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Dip the potatoes into the clarified butter and lay the potatoes on the tray. Place another sheet of baking paper on top and put a baking tray on top to help keep the potato
    straight and flat while baking. Bake at 160°C for 15 to 25 minutes or until the potatoes are translucent and golden brown.
  7. Debeard the mussels and, on a low heat, place them in a dry saucepan with the lid on. Remove as soon as they open. Once cooked, remove the meat from the shells.
  8. To assemble, place a crisp on each plate, squeeze a small amount of onion cream on each, place a mussel on top and drizzle with a little mussel juice. 
  9. Garnish with mixed herbs and flowers.
  10. Sprinkle with vinegar powder.

By Charlotte Parsons


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