Bridal Shower, Party of 20, Reston, Virginia

Chef MIchael on the move

If you were out on the town last Saturday night, you might have found yourself asking, “Where are all the beautiful people?” The reason you couldn’t find them is that we were cooking for all of them in Reston Virginia. There is no doubt there was a shortage of them on the streets because they were all in this house. And my wife, being one of them, volunteered to come help me on this mission and was right there beside me to enjoy it all.













The times are few and far between when, as a personal chef, we get to indulge in such a surrounding aura of sensory appeal outside of the food while we’re cooking. Most of the time you’re hunkered down in a blazing kitchen, cramped of comfort and style, chop-chop-chopping and bumping into everything because of the lack of size and your familiarity with the surroundings.

Then, enter this party – a gastronomic marathon for the ears, eyes, palate and mind.


Hey! We serve at these parties too!

The hosts of the party became our hosts, as we worked our way through the late afternoon and into the evening. We were invited to sample the fine cheeses and wines as if we were one of the pack. There was music and laughter all around. Smiles permeated the atmosphere – everyone seeming to enjoy –  just simply being. The kitchen and middle island were open to the living room where many people congregated between courses. This allowed us to be center-stage to some extent while we cooked.  The labor of grinding out food for 5 straight hours seemed to vanish behind the vale of good cheer which resided in every corner of the room. To make it quite simple – it was just fun. Plain and simple fun. Maybe even raw and unabridged fun to some extent. It is definitely one of those occasions that I will remember for a long, long time.

Bacon Wrapped Jumbo Sea Scallops

You might think all of the above would make it hard to focus on your work – but it was quite the opposite. The crowd was so excited to have a chef in the house preparing meals before their eyes that it made you want to work even harder. Smiles had to be combined with prep work, assembling the food was intertwined with descriptions and brief pauses for photos. Questions flooded the prep area, as did more happy people with more cameras, smiles and joyful interest at the goings-on.

My New Wusthof being put to Work

As with any event like this – nothing will ever be perfect. But this was a close to perfect as we could have come, and much of it was because of the graciousness of the guests at the party, the quality of the wine and food, the warm atmosphere that surrounded everything, and how comfortable the homeowners made us feel as we served them. I know I’m glowing a bit here – but I am… I’m really glowing about the day. It was just wonderful… Here is the menu we served…

  • Fresh Crepes stuffed with Smoked Wild Alaskan Salmon and Chive Cream Cheese Sauce
  • Brie in Puff Pastry Ravioli served with Pink Roasted Garlic Cream
  • Mini Maryland Crab Cakes with Dijon Tartar
  • Lobster and Shrimp Avocado Salad served with Garlic Crostini
  • Bacon Wrapped Jumbo Sea Scallops with Zesty Citrus Remolade
  • Filo Cigars stuffed with Confit Duck and Balsamic Raspberry Reduction

A pillow of cheese filled goodness

Each item presented it’s own set of challenges when it came to timing, assembly and presentation – but each one of the dishes seemed to develop a little fan club until the next one came out. Add to that the sommelier selection of wine available at the party and many were able to wander from glass to glass, dish to dish, and savor the different flavor combinations. The quality of the menu would not have been possible without tremendous help from the homeowners – nor would the selections of wine – which veered away from my normal appellation selections – but were powerful, flavorful selections nonetheless.

Jumbo Sea Scallops with Zesty Citrus Remolade

Inside of all this I would like to thank my wife, who in many more ways than one made the day possible. I’m proud of you honey… I’ve worked next to a lot of people over the years and I can say with a little authority on the subject that you are welcome to cook alongside me any day.

Diren Hard at Work Making The Duck

It was a special day for us – on a special occasion for our guests. I’m proud to have been a part of it, and incredibly happy that things worked out the way they did.

Pillows of Cheese-Filled Puff Pastry Joy





7 responses to “Bridal Shower, Party of 20, Reston, Virginia”

  1. Carol Newgaard Avatar
    Carol Newgaard

    Chef Mike,

    What a lovely article! It will have to be the first page of Brenda’s Bridal Shower Book. Everyone so enjoyed the evening, especially the food – which was delicious as well as beautiful. I’m sure we will be seeing you and your wife again, and will certainly recommend you!

    Mother of the bride-to-be and
    of the hostess, Danielle

  2. Brenda Avatar

    Chef Mike.
    Thank you for making my bridal shower a truly special and delicious event. All of the dishes were excellent. I particularly enjoyed the continuous flow of food. Just as we were savoring your last dish something new was coming our way. What a great way to spend time with friends. Thanks for all your hard work. Your attention to detail, presentation and fresh ingredients was evident in every dish you served.


  3. Danielle Greenwell Avatar

    Chef Mike-
    Thanks so much for you and your wife’s hard work on making this a successful event. What a wonderful way to host a shower. I know I drove you nuts in the beginning. It was a such a change; you had the kitchen under controll and I’m used to rushing to get everything done — food being cooked at the last minute so it’s hot and the dirty dishes tucked out of site and myself dressed before the first guest arrives. I wasn’t sure what to do with 2 hours of free time. Everything was wonderful….favorites were clearly the crab cakes and the scallops…. although I preferred the duck confit and the lobster salad. We took the left over lobster salad boating with friends on the Potomac the next day–and what a hit it was! Perfect with a glass of white wine in the sun.

    We will certainly be having you all back!


  4. The Chef Avatar

    Well… I must say thank you to all of you because you were all a big part in making the day very special.

    Thank you for choosing us be a part of it.

  5. Deb Newgaard Avatar
    Deb Newgaard

    Chef Mike:

    What a talent you have. The pairings of wine with food with sauces is such a great gift. Most can follow a recipe, a few can produce a perfect sauce and some can pair wines. Very, very few can do all and you are definately one of the few. Add to that your most gracious and generous personality and willingness to talk, pose for photos and answer questions added even more to the experience. Another rare combination.
    It was indeed a very special evenning. Thank you for providing all the aroma, tastes and excitement that everyone hopes for when planning a special event. With your talent I am sure that one day I will be watching you on the Food Network telling everyone – I knew him when!
    Thanks so much!

  6. The Chef Avatar

    Thank you so much for the kind words. I’ve been waiting for the Food Network to call – even if it’s for voice over work!!!

    Can’t wait t see you all again.

  7. Scott Kelby Avatar
    Scott Kelby

    Who took the pictures? You look terrific!
    Scott Kelby

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