PARTY PLANNER Delightful bites A D.C. mainstay shares an appetizer recipe and tips for in-house weddings by Maggie Shea T he approach of the warmer months signifies the height of wedding season (April through July) at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Silver Spring, Md., just outside Washington, D.C. city limits. The restaurant has been catering weddings in-house since it opened in 1930 and today hosts three to four per weekend during peak times—meaning weddings are an inherent part of the restaurant’s mission. According to Christina Indianos, director of catering since 2003, approximately 95 percent of the weddings hosted by Mrs. K’s take place outside in the garden, thereby avoiding interfer- ence with restaurant traffic. Mrs. K’s also can accommodate up to 300 guests inside throughout its seven individually styled rooms for weddings that may range in theme from desserts-only to cocktails, to buffets or sit-down dinners. But one of the keys to success is Mrs. K’s loyal staff, says Indianos. “A key factor is we don’t have a large turnover rate with employees,” she says. “Some of our staff have been here more than 20 years. In the restaurant business that’s pretty unique. For a lot of restaurants, [turnover] is a big deal because they might be working with a third of their staff that has never done a banquet before. Our staff has so much experience in different scenarios that we welcome the unusual because all of a sudden it’s a challenge.” Another reason Mrs. K’s catered events are successful is the creativity of its executive chef, Maurisee Upshur, who started as a line cook at the restaurant in 1996 after graduating from the School of Culinary Arts at Baltimore International College. She had studied classical French cuisine and Creole cooking, which supplemented the Caribbean-style flavors and cooking techniques she grew up learning. At Mrs. K’s, Upshur oversees lunch and dinner menus, as well as a decadent Sunday brunch buffet. In 2007, she was nominated for “Chef of the Year” by the Restaurant Association of Maryland. When searching for wedding menu ideas, Upshur often finds inspiration from popular items on Mrs. K’s restaurant menu. For light, summery hors d’oeuvres, she likes to combine two of her favorites: cold salads and seafood. In this dish, lump crab meat is tossed with lemon and tangy sour cream and nestled into prepared phyllo cups for a light and refreshing bite that is reminiscent of summertime. Maurisee Upshur, executive chef, Mrs. K’s Restaurant, Silver Spring, Md., www.mrsks.com; wine pairing by Marlene Rossman Yield: 50 pieces 1/4 1/4 3 T. 1/2 Salt 3 T. c. mayonnaise c. sour cream lemon juice lemon zest and white pepper, to taste chives, thinly sliced 2 T. capers, or to taste 2 lb. lump crab meat, cartilage removed 50 mini phyllo cups Parsley or chives, for garnish Method (1) Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, white pepper, chives and capers in a bowl. (2) Gently fold crab meat into mixture. (3) Spoon crab salad into phyllo cups. (4) Garnish with parsley or chives. Wine pairing: A light, fresh and palatecleansing wine like Tolloy Pinot Grigio 2007 (Italy) contrasts beautifully with the creaminess of the ingredients. CITRUS CRAB IN PHYLLO CUPS www.chefmagazine.com April 2009 | 7 Visit us at giftwarenews.com/readerservice