Thirty-one years ago, when Bonnie Bachmeyer and the late Fred Bachmeyer were married, they chose friend Donna Potter to cater their wedding reception.
It was one of her first catering jobs, and three decades later, she's catering the wedding reception for the Bachmeyers' daughter Leah, who will marry John Kille in September.
Potter, one of Lexington's top caterers, began her culinary career soon after graduating from the University of Kentucky. She worked at restaurants including The Bungalow, In Between, Chow and Morgan's Café, and for a few caterers. She taught at the Head Start program in Whitesburg for three years, then she moved back to Lexington to try her hand at catering.
When her friends Bonnie and Fred asked her to cater their wedding, she was eager to do it.
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"I was just beginning to dabble in it. Back then, of course, I didn't know what I was doing, basically," Potter said.
She worked mostly by herself, but when requests began to come in for more jobs, Potter relied on "whoever my roommate was at the time" and friends. She recalls inviting friends to her apartment for a party and having them peel shrimp for a catering job.
Now, Potter has six full-time, year-round employees, and her regular clients include Khalid Bin Abdoullah, owner of Juddmonte Farms, and other Thoroughbred horse owners. But weddings bring in new customers and the opportunity to be creative with tablescapes and menus.
In the beginning, Potter used baskets and silver platters to decorate tables; now the staff builds lavish table decorations, using stands of various shapes and sizes for draping cloths.
"Now, anything goes, even iron skillets," Potter said.
Fred and Bonnie Bachmeyer's 1982 reception featured a simple array of country ham biscuits, artichoke dip, pasta salad, and fruit and vegetable trays. Bonnie Bachmeyer said she doesn't recall the menu on her wedding day, but "I remember I had fun and the food was delicious."
For daughter Leah's reception at Ashley Inn in Lancaster, the menu is more lavish. Fred Bachmeyer, who died in June, helped plan the menu for Leah's reception and told his wife to make sure "she had whatever she wanted."
"It will be a bittersweet day," Bonnie Bachmeyer said.
The menu for Leah and John's reception features baby Kentucky hot Browns, which Potter created from a client's idea.
"They would bring people from Atlanta to go to the races and then have 'Dinner with Donna.' That's what they called it. They would have all Kentucky foods, and the client said: 'Why hasn't somebody invented a baby hot Brown?' " Potter said.
"I started working on it. I used little toast shells, tortilla shells, and nothing would hold up. We found these little cups online that are made with potato starch," she said.
Baby Kentucky hot Browns are a signature item and will be one of two passed hors d'oeuvres at the Bachmeyer-Kille reception. The menu includes Angus beef brisket with red wine au jus, creamy horseradish sauce and Henry Baines sauce; rosemary chicken kebabs; corn pudding; roasted vegetable medley, and fresh fruit kebab porcupine.
Here is Potter's recipe for one of the passed hors d'oeuvres.
Petit chopped salad tarts
3 ripe peaches, cut in half and grilled
3 cups small mesculin greens, chopped
½ cup toasted pecans
¼ cup chopped chives
½ cup shredded manchego cheese
24 petit fillo shells
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
To grill peaches: Spray stovetop grill pan with a nonstick cooking spray and preheat before placing peaches cut side down on grill pan. Grill until peaches soften and have good grill marks. Let cool and chop into small pieces.
To make vinaigrette: Combine ingredients and whisk until well incorporated.
Mix about ½ cup vinaigrette with greens, pecans, chives and cheese, then toss together and place 1 tablespoon in each fillo shell. Do not fill shells until ready to serve. Garnish top with a piece of grilled peach.
These ingredients can be adjusted to your own taste.