It should come as no surprise that brides and grooms are increasingly looking for new ways to make their wedding day reflect their personal interests and pastimes. For nature lovers, the great outdoors is an ideal place to exchange vows. Others who prefer a more casual ambiance have been shying away from ballroom receptions and are selecting more rustic settings. And more recently, many couples have been focusing on their wedding’s culinary experience to ensure that food is presented in an interesting, fun and appealing way. Today’s brides and grooms want a wedding day that speaks volumes about their personalities and passions.
In meeting all of these mindsets, Greenery Caterers, operator of the Carriage House at Rockwood Park, has perfected the art of making each wedding and reception as unique as every couple. According to Craig Trostle, owner and operator, “It all starts in the kitchen.” The caterer’s reputation for culinary excellence goes back many years, starting in 1978 when Trostle opened the Greenery Restaurant, which quickly became one of Wilmington’s most popular dining venues. Now centered in the Carriage House, Greenery Caterers continues to offer fresh creations that garner a growing list of five-star reviews. By combining recipes in imaginative ways, Head Chef John has mastered the art of creative cuisine. “Unlike some caterers who buy their food partially prepared, we create our meals completely from scratch,” he says.
But even preparing excellent cuisine is not enough. Trostle also adds a magical element to these presentations with his unique hand-carved masterpieces, artfully based on the wishes and interests of each bride and groom. He turns fruits and vegetables of all kinds into flowers, birds and other curiosities—a skill that dates at least as far back as the Chinese Tang Dynasty in A.D. 618. This time-consuming art is rarely practiced in modern society but has become something of a signature touch at the Carriage House. “For us, presentation and food quality go hand-in-hand,” Trostle says.
Wedding receptions especially bring out the poet in Trostle. “I really enjoy doing my carvings,” he admits. “It’s another creative outlet that makes us stand above the other caterers. And it allows me to personalize every reception, every event that we host. When I see the smiles on the guests’ faces, it’s worth all the extra time.”
Among the most requested by brides and grooms are his many flower designs, often carved from honeydews. “I really like the melon’s texture and the way the outer skin contrasts with the interior color,” Trostle says.
And few varieties of produce have escaped his knife. Several watermelons, cantaloupes, pumpkins, apples and various radishes are just some of the items he has turned into friendly creatures of the land, sea and air. “For one display, I spent nearly 35 hours carving vegetables and fruits to create an elaborate 32-foot buffet,” he says. “It had flying birds, a flowing waterfall and six-foot palm trees carved from pineapples and other fruit.”
The menu’s high quality and beautiful presentation align perfectly with the old-world craftsmanship on display in the 150-year-old Carriage House. Though totally refurbished, the venue retains its rustic charm through gray stone walls and wooden beams. Located in the heart of North Wilmington, Del., among the colorful gardens and towering trees of a turn-of-the-century, 72-acre estate, the Carriage House at Rockwood Park offers many choices for an outdoor ceremony and virtually unlimited natural backdrops for wedding photography. The facility is also large enough to provide space for an indoor wedding ceremony at the request of the bride and groom, or should the need arise due to inclement weather.
Coordinating the many elements of each wedding and reception is something of a family affair. Head Chef John O. Connell oversees food preparation and “all things kitchen.” The rest of the staff—including the combined leadership and expertise of Patti Trostle (Craig’s wife), Michelle Quirk and Margaret Casson—keeps everything moving like a well-oiled machine. “All of us, our entire staff, have been together for so many years that we’re one big happy family,” Trostle says. “We treat every wedding, every reception, every event as if it was our own.”
While the Carriage House consistently honors its past, it is continuously moving forward. This year’s exciting Super Bowl found Trostle challenging his own carving skills yet again when he decided to add a Super Bowl-themed centerpiece to his ever-growing list of impressive creations. Trostle saw his finished creation—an eagle preparing to fly—as a prediction of victory. “I always knew they would win,” he says. “And I expect to recreate it again next year in honor of another Super Bowl victory!”