Gone are the days of formal sit-down wedding dinners that confine guests to their seats in huge ballrooms completely detached from other guests or family members. Today’s weddings are much more elaborate and fun. That’s why Edgewood Country Club in River Vale, NJ, brought in Executive Chef Anthony Villanueva, aka Chef Tony, to cater events with the latest food trends.
Edgewood Country Club is located in River Vale (Bergen County). Founded in 1956, the club is located on two former pre-Revolutionary War farmsteads that were later converted into a country manor estate. Edgewood Country Club offers distinctive facilities in a warm, but sophisticated setting. The club’s jewel is an impeccably maintained 27-hole golf course staffed by PGA-certified golf groundskeepers. Other club features include six Har-Tru tennis courts, a comprehensive tennis instruction program for players of all ages, a state-of-the-art strength training & fitness facility for members, and one of New Jersey’s largest heated swimming pools. Worth noting, the Club also features a stunning, newly-renovated clubhouse and banquet facility which opened in May 2017 for both member and non-member dining and special events.
We sat down with Candice Timmerman, Event Coordinator & Sales Director at Edgewood, and Chef Tony for some Q & A:
What makes Edgewood Country Club stand out as a wedding venue?
CANDICE: Edgewood is modern, yet elegant, and anything but “cookie cutter” in our food and beverage offerings. With only one wedding per day, we offer brides and grooms their dream wedding with our full attention and sole access to the club.
Walk us through your wedding process?
CANDICE: The first step would be to select your venue so that you officially have your wedding date; then you can begin to research vendors. I always recommend starting with your entertainment then moving on to photography and lastly, your floral and décor. The most fun appointment prior to the actual wedding is the menu/tasting appointment where our bride and groom get to sample an array of Chef Tony’s ideas and brainstorm with him to create their own unique menu.
Candice, tell us about your background and your role at ECC?
I am the Event Coordinator & Sales Director at Edgewood Country Club. I have more than 16 years of event planning and sales experience and an uncompromising standard for superior service. My vision for the banquet facility from day one has been to create a top-choice destination for exceptional events and fine catering, for both members and non-members. I am committed to ensuring that Edgewood’s banquet staff executes every aspect of every social, charity or corporate event expertly from start to finish, at a level befitting a distinctive country club such as Edgewood.
Chef Tony, tell us about yourself?
Since joining Edgewood Country Club in late 2015, I have transformed the club’s culinary program, introducing a level of cuisine that rivals the best NYC restaurants. Our eclectic menus, theme nights and international flair create memorable dining experiences for members and banquet guests alike. I attended the Culinary Institute of Hudson County Community College and studied at the legendary Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY
What are some of your food options for weddings and events that separate you from any competition?
CANDICE: One of the most important decisions a couple must make about their wedding is the MENU, and the grooms are now getting more involved in these decisions, as well. Today’s newly-engaged couples — many of whom are often self-proclaimed “foodies” with more diverse and sophisticated palates than ever before — are looking for flexible and interesting menus, not only to meet the needs of those on restricted diets but that also afford more input from the couples themselves. To meet those needs Edgewood Country Club Executive Chef Anthony Villanueva is meeting those demands with inventive cuisine and aligning their menus with the evolving tastes of today’s bride-and-groom foodies.
CHEF TONY offers insight into these latest wedding menu trends:
- We are customizing menus and creating unique cocktail hour menu items such as Grown-Up Grilled Cheese Stations, mini Philly Cheesesteaks, Tuna Tartar Pizza, and Butternut Squash Shooters with Gruyere and Raspberries. These are just a few examples, of course. And while pigs-in-a-blanket remain a mainstay of the cocktail reception – they now come with a twist, too. As for cocktails, more brides and grooms are selecting a specialty cocktail for their reception. Mules and Old Fashioneds are just two of the hottest selections today.
TONY: Here are some examples of how we source and serve all our food at Edgewood:
- We do all our butchering and portioning at the club. I personally hand select and inspect every whole fish and all meat products that we butcher and portion out.
- I have partnered with a vertical farming house based in Hackensack called “Greens Do Good;” they are growing for us exclusively, so I get the freshest micro greens, organic greens, etc.
- All breads and desserts are baked on premises; we are known for this within the industry.
- We are also extremely accommodating to guests that have special dietary and religious needs. Examples are gluten-free options, vegan options (and kosher meals that we outsource when needed).
The route of our success has always been our willingness to please and custom tailor every event from start to finish
What trends have become popular in the wedding scene?
CANDICE: Lots of couples like to have their ceremony outdoors these days. Edgewood offers outdoor space, as well as alternate indoor space for an indoor ceremony, separate from the room or rooms where the reception will be held. Edgewood also offers separate bride and groom suites where the bride and bridal party, groom and groomsman can spend the day, as well. Also, many couples today don’t want to disrupt the flow of the party with speeches, bouquet tosses, cake cutting ceremonies and embarrassing moments removing a garter belt. Today, speeches are left for the rehearsal dinner so that guests can just party without having the stops and starts of these older traditions. Décor is decidedly less opulent – but no less sophisticated or elegant. Neutral tones and lots of greenery for the floral selections (think succulents!) are more typical of today’s reception. Romance is also now center stage –couples today are big on the romance and making their guests feel that vibe. For example, they may display at the wedding photos of their first date, the wedding proposal and share stories of how they first met.
What size weddings/events are you capable of holding?
CANDICE: The clubhouse and banquet facility, which offers fine dining and gracious service, is host to many events such as weddings, golf outings, charity banquets, bar / bat mitzvahs, Sweet 16s, Corporate functions, and other parties for up to 350 guests, but events can be as intimate as for 16 guests, such as for a Corporate Board meeting, in our private wine room.
Tell us about your infamous tastings?
CHEF TONY: The tastings that we do at Edgewood take over two hours to conduct. We literally cover everything from cocktail hour stations and hors d’oeuvres to 1st course entrees and desserts. It allows our clients to know what to expect on the day of the event, and they get excited because they already know how fantastic and beautiful everything will be. It helps me, as well, because often, in these tastings, I can unveil something new or suggest something they might not have previously considered.
If you’re getting married in the near future, Edgewood Country Club must be on your short list. For more information visit their website at www.edgewoodnj.com.
Edgewood Country Club is located at 449 Rivervale Road, River Vale, New Jersey.