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Family Style


Chanterelles foraged near Manchester, VT

Phew. With the great weather and social scene here in Manchester, summer is simply flying by. Catering is in full force, chanterelles are piling into the kitchen (yummmmmm) and the restaurant has been super busy. The rain showers have been on and off and our garden is bursting at the seams with beans, beets, tomatoes, Japanese eggplant, potatoes, peppers and a handful of other goodies. You’ll probably notice some lovely nasturtiums and pansies garnishing your plate. They’re beautiful and delicious with a peppery kick, just how we like it!

Every year it’s awesome to watch those tiny little seeds make their way from the garden to the restaurant line. And every year what we cook with them changes. Along with new approaches to our food, peoples tastes and their choices change. This year it seems that family style is hot with our catering events. Weddings, dinner parties, you name it; people want big plates of food with bold clean flavors that everyone can share. It makes perfect sense. The big family style dishes make it much easier to get the food from the kitchen to the tables quickly, piping hot, full of flavor and freshness. Diners get to dive into whatever suits them, maybe try some of this… some of that… some nasturtiums… good to go!


Vermont is a magical place!

A couple of weeks ago we did a gorgeous wedding at the Hubbell Homestead at Colgate Park. For salads, the bride and groom chose green beans with shitake mushrooms, a beautiful Caprese salad, and fingerling potato and beet salad, all plated up in various sized plates and placed on the tables for folks to pass and share. Those salads were accompanied by server passed proteins—grilled chicken with sun-dried tomato, spinach pesto, feta and black olives, grilled salmon with maple mustard glaze, and BBQ ribs with the groom’s own rub recipe! You never know what to expect when the groom asks you to use his own recipe, but without a doubt it was fantastic! That’s the essence of family style; sharing your experience with others. The groom, the kitchen and all of the guests got to share those ribs so why not spread the love with you all? If you want to try the groom’s rib rub, here’s the ticket:


Kevin Joseph’s Rib Rub

3 tbs paprika
1 tbs onion powder
1 tbs garlic powder
1 tbs ground basil
1 1/2 tbs dry mustard
1 tbs red pepper
1/2 tbs black pepper
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. kosher salt


To compliment the family style meals, the design aesthetic has been a mix of rustic and elegant, which perfectly suits venues like Hildene in Manchester and The Hubbell Homestead in Bennington. Farm tables with organic runners are scattered in the tent among round tables draped in floor length linen. Wooden boxes whimsically stuffed with colorful Gerber daisies, roses and snapdragons sit on loose freshly cut greens in the center of the tables. Slices of fresh cut maple make wonderful pillar candle coasters. Hemstitched napkins tied with wispy pastel bows tie the whole design together. It’s amazing what florists and event designers can do to create a bride’s fantasy from an empty palate of a tented stamped concrete area. I am continually amazed at the transformation. Throw in 200 of the happiest people on earth and my fresh, made-with-love food…now we have a party!

There’s so much going on in the restaurant and around town this summer that I don’t often sit back and reflect, but next year is our twentieth anniversary. That’s twenty years of the Perfect Wife. Over the past twenty years we’ve sampled who knows how many craft beers, popped many a good bottle of bubbly, hosted the local volleyball league, grown our own food, catered lots of fantastic events and have become the spot locals know simply as “The Wife.” Without the amazing patronage of our customers, the dedication of so many hard working employees over the years, and a commitment to making delicious and creative food served with love and warmth, we wouldn’t have even made it to our ‘tweens. So next year, just before we turn twenty and get all responsible, maybe we’ll have a celebration to toast the maturity of our twenties and the follies of our teens. Either way we’ll call it family style and locally sourced – two things that will always apply as much to the people at the Wife as the food.

Categories: Blog, Catering, Food Talk