News & Events

City Tech Professor Publishes a Cultural History of Wedding Food and Feasts

May 19, 2017

Hospitality Management Professor Claire Stewart recently published her book As Long As We Both Shall Eat: A History of Wedding Food and Feasts (2017), which is part of the Rowman & Littlefield Studies in Food and Gastronomy Series. The book was recently featured in an article about the history of wedding cakes in National Public Radio’s The Salt: What’s On Your Plate?

Examining the various food customs associated with weddings in America and around the world, Stewart not only provides a rich account of the foods most loved and frequently served at wedding celebrations, she also offers a glimpse into the customs and celebrations themselves, as they are experienced in the West and in various other cultures. Stewart sheds light on the historical and contemporary significance of wedding food, and explores patterns of the varieties of conspicuous consumption linked to American wedding feasts in particular.

There are stories of celebrity excess, and the book is peppered with accounts of lavish strange-but-true wedding tales. The antics of wealthy socialites and celebrities is a topic rich for exploration, and the telling of their exploits can be used to track the fads and changes in conventional and contemporary wedding feasts and celebrations. From cocktail hours to wedding cakes, showers to brunches, the food we enjoy to celebrate the joining of life partners helps bring us together, no matter our differences.

“In the course of my career as a professional chef, I have cooked for thousands of weddings, working in restaurants and hotels, catering dozens of weddings per weekend. I use this experience to spike the research that substantiates what I know anecdotally to be true,” said Stewart. “I hope this book will find its way to curious brides and grooms, as well as students of American foodways and food lovers. I particularly hope this book will reach my brethren, those chefs, servers, salespeople, and wedding planners who make a living in the wonderful, rich, interesting world of weddings in America.”

As Long As We Both Shall Eat has already received rave reviews: “Of all the feasts that people eat, one of the most important, socially, is the wedding banquet. . . . Having herself cooked for hundreds of weddings, Stewart has witnessed all sorts of nuptial revelries. . . . She inventories myriad religious customs worldwide, ranging from Jewish dietary laws to Mormon, Sikh, and Buddhist customs. A chapter on African American practices moves across time from slavery through the present. Full of history and sociology, Stewart’s book will intrigue even those not tying the knot.” (Booklist)

“A fascinating read full of delicious detail. Stewart explores the diversity of American wedding food and wedding feast traditions,” said Vicki Howard, Visiting Fellow, University of Essex, and author of Brides, Inc.: American Weddings and the Business of Tradition.

Claire Stewart is Assistant Professor of Hospitality Management at City Tech, CUNY. She was executive chef at the Continental Club in New York City and executive sous chef at the Yale Club of New York City. She worked as chef tournant at Gee’s Brassiere in Oxford, England, and chef poissonier at Rainbow Room. Stewart was banquet chef at Highlawn Pavilion and a chef at Gracie Mansion in New York City. In her native California, she worked as chef tournant at Delta King in Sacramento, and a chef garde manger at the Hyatt Regency. In addition to being chef owner of C to C Caterers, she worked as a server at Capriccio, and at Koya’s, both in Rancho Cordova, California. Chef Stewart has been the resident beekeeper for the Durand-Hedden Historical House in Maplewood, NJ.