Planning a wedding comes with a million little decisions, and with everyone having an opinion, the day can start to feel like it’s about pleasing everyone else. When dealing with your loved ones, especially the vocally picky ones, ensuring everyone else at your wedding is happy, and no one is inconvenienced or upset is tempting. For Nick Orgo, Executive Chef and Owner of M.A.N.E. Catering, there is one place during your wedding where you should put yourself first, no matter what: your menu.
“I always tell my couples to spoil themselves for your food,” said Orgo. “There are so many ways you’ll bend over backward to make people happy, but if you’re paying for the food, you should have exactly what you want, even if it isn’t what you think is ‘wedding food.’”
With a career that began with 15 years working strenuous hours in restaurants, Nick Orgo turned to catering to have a happier balance with his home life. He was looking for a schedule that would leave evenings and Sundays open for family, while still working with food. He started catering as a chef for a different company, and in 2014 he decided he was ready to stop working for other people and strike out on his own with M.A.N.E. Catering so he could do things his own way. With M.A.N.E. Catering now flourishing in Bridgton out of a restaurant/kitchen space called Stella’s on the Square (named for his daughter) and as the new owner of the Bear Mountain Inn in Waterford, Nick has become the expert at doing things his way. When working with his clients at M.A.N.E. Catering, he encourages them to think of their wedding food in this way too.
“In my opinion, the food should be all about the couple and no one else,” said Nick. “Wedding planning starts to feel like it’s a day for all their friends and family, but really, it should be a day for themselves.”
While M.A.N.E. Catering does provide sample menus on their website, when Nick and his team talk to their couples, the most important question they ask is, “What would you like to eat?”
“Couples have this idea that the food at their wedding needs to be fancy, but it is about what is fancy for them,” says Nick of menu planning. “If they want steak for dinner but appetizers that are meatball subs, then that is their perfect menu, not some idea of ‘fancy.’”
With ties to local farms forged during COVID-era farm-to-table meals, Nick and his team source many of their ingredients within a network of area farms and create most items from scratch. This makes customizing meals for friends and family with dietary restrictions easy to accommodate.
“It can be tempting to plan a whole menu around friends and family who may be gluten intolerant or have food allergies. But we would rather work on customizing one meal to make sure the couple has exactly what they want rather than them changing everything,” says Nick. “With the way things are, you have to be flexible with your catering. Everything has to be able to be modified.”
Nick credits his love of catering to people with his Greek and Italian heritage. As he has taken on a more client-facing role within M.A.N.E. Catering, he has found joy in working with couples for their day and helping them create a menu that is true to who they are and what they love.
“I love incorporating special food to a couple, like serving tuna the groom caught or vegetables your family grew for a reception,” says Nick. “Being there for their day, seeing it through to the end of the day, and watching them be so happy is special to me.”
As out-of-state clients come to sample what Maine does best, M.A.N.E. Catering helps to embrace the fruits of the ocean while also encouraging their clients to think “outside the roll,” creating summer delicacies like lobster deviled eggs and a decadent lobster-stuffed donut with tarragon mayo.
“Food at weddings is becoming about the show, the experience,” says Nick of current wedding trends. “It’s not always about the 300-person event with a sit-down meal; it’s more about large grazing tables, outdoor grills. It’s more acceptable to be yourself and express yourself through your wedding, making it more fun.”
For Nick, the most important thing is to remember what the day is really about and to only invite the people you know will share in the joy of the day, no matter what ends up on their table.
“It’s about what makes you happy, not anyone else,” says Nick. “Invite people who support you. Everyone there should be happy to have RC Cola and hot dogs because the day is not about what they eat; it’s about having your best day. If your best day is pizza, then let’s have pizza! People forget that they aren’t there for the food but for the love.”