C California Style

The autumnal tablescape at Durham Ranch. PHOTO: Max Wagner.
The bride and groom. PHOTO: Max Wagner.
An open-fire cookout at Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch. PHOTO: Max Wagner.
Customized cocktails served at the wedding reception. PHOTO: Max Wagner.
The scene at Farmstead. PHOTO: Max Wagner.
Passed hors d'oeuvres by Paula LeDuc Fine Catering. PHOTO: Max Wagner.
A place setting at the welcome dinner. PHOTO: Max Wagner.
An Ad Hoc menu. PHOTO: Max Wagner.
The Susie Cakes Confection. PHOTO: Max Wagner.

Love at First Bite

by C California Style

A Brentwood couple head to the heart of wine country for a gourmet wedding weekend.

When Ashley Sater and Taylor Fijan met through friends at a volleyball tournament in the summer of 2009, little did they know that their casual postgame flirtation over chicken fingers and fries at Manhattan Beach’s The Kettle would turn into a lifetime of breaking bread together.

“We generally talk about what’s for lunch while we’re eating breakfast and what’s for dinner while we’re eating lunch,” says Ashley, a pre-kindergarten teacher, listing local L.A. restaurants including Bandera, Milo & Olive and Osteria Mamma among the couple’s favorites for a night out. And when it comes to takeout, the pair regularly opt for a “pizza off”—an idea hatched by Ashley’s brother, which involves ordering pies from up to four different restaurants, and doing side-by-side taste comparisons over cocktails. “We can get the chili oil that we love from one spot, the fresh ingredients we love from another and the perfectly baked dough and marinara sauce from yet another,” says Ashley of the at-home date nights shared with Taylor, a real estate investment and fund management company exec.

So it’s no surprise that when the couple, both Phoenix natives, decided to tie the knot in St. Helena last fall, food played a central role in their plans. “We looked for restaurants in Napa with farm-to-table foods and a gourmet feel,” says wedding planner Cassie Dube of Bash, Please. “Nothing too old-school, more progressive.”

Members of the wedding party and close family kicked off festivities on Thursday night with a rehearsal dinner at Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc featuring dishes including the chef’s signature fried chicken. The following evening, the couple lived out their fantasy of a giant backyard barbecue with a welcome dinner at Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch—open-fire cookout, s’mores and bluegrass band included. The feasting culminated on Saturday for the big event, staged at interior and event designer Ken Fulk’s Durham Ranch, with Paula LeDuc Fine Catering leaving no detail untouched: from a pizza station to passed hot churros to two bars with customized cocktails, and servings of french fries to nibble on during the bus ride back to the hotels.

Just when they thought they couldn’t muster one more bite, guests awoke the next day to breakfast bags delivered to their rooms, courtesy of the newlyweds, and packed with just-baked pastries and maple butter from Paula LeDuc, fresh fruit and Milton & Small cold-brew coffee. “No brunch is complete without good coffee,” muses Ashley. “But we would have sent mimosas if we could have.” 

Photographed by Max Wanger.
Written and Edited by Lesley Mckenzie.